Capstone Foster Care News

I wanted to write a blog on a typical day-in-the-life of a foster family. This came to me right in the middle of one of those jam-packed days when you are juggling various children, schools, professionals and work life. Sometimes it’s just a little bit interesting to be a fly on the wall in someone else’s life! So here it is.

Alarm goes off and I wake up Holly. The promise of breakfast always gets her up and out of bed. She’s been coughing this morning but otherwise seems well. She had the usual for breakfast along with a dose of cough syrup which I remind myself to write on the medicine record later.

Packed lunches get made, other two children fed and persuaded, consoled and begged to complete morning ablutions and uniform on, “Don’t forget your guitar!”

Holly goes off on the school bus just after I manage a shower. The other children want to ride bikes/scooters to school but I won’t have time to walk them up and back home before work starts. Compromise. Kids meet me at school, I’ll drive up so I can meet them at school. Get to school and spend ten minutes in the ‘abyss’ (aka class cloakroom) for a missing shoe. No joy. Beg headteacher to help. I look so desperate she agrees.

Off to work. That’s a whole other story.

Home at lunchtime to hang out masses of washing from our family weekend away. Strategically place all washing on clothes horses in the sunshine. I still refuse to get a tumble dryer. Consider that I may be more idiot than martyr. General tidying and vacuuming. Get a call from Holly’s school nurse. Apparently she has been meeting with Holly weekly since last year to give her a chance to chat about anything that’s bothering her In light of the events of her life over the last year. This is the first I’ve heard of the work but it’s no big deal!

Back to work.

Finish work and debate with myself whether to tackle my mountains of paperwork or go for a run. Decide on the run as I have no idea when I might get the opportunity for one this week. As I run, I start to write this blog in my head. I also go over the mountain of jobs I need to do this week and a list of items I want to raise at Holly’s PEP meeting on Wednesday. There is still so much missing from her personal information and history. James and I are working hard to piece together Holly’s experiences to better understand her and help her have a narrative for her life journey. She is still missing most of her belongings and, bar two, has no photographs of her or her birth family, nor does she have a birth certificate. That reminds me of a number of calls and emails I need to make to school and her social worker, which I promptly do following the run.

I remember that James is on call this week and how I am going to be a bit more of a single parent but it’s only once a month.

I collect the two youngest children from after school club and then go to Holly’s school to collect from her club. There is a bit of time to wait before she’s finished so I use the time to help the kids with homework in the car.

Back at home, dinner gets put on and more homework assistance. Remind Holly to use the loo and all the tasks that go with it (wiping, flushing, hand washing). James gets home in time for tea but shoots off fairly soon after to go to a meeting, not before helpfully clearing up tea and putting the dishwasher on.

I bath the youngest kids followed by Holly. Although she is in year 7, her needs are such that she requires lots of support with this still. Holly often uses this time to chat to me about life in her birth family. Tonight she is perplexed when I tell her that she is capable and can understand lots of things. ‘But I only know this much’ she says, indicating an inch gap with her thumb and forefinger. I disagree, telling her she knows much more and has a good brain that can learn. Once out of the bath she tells me she hates her old family because ‘they tell me I do not know and I cannot do things’. I empathise and tell her it must be confusing for her when I tell her things differently to how it was with her birth parents.

I turn my attentions back to the younger ones for stories and tucking in/’how long can I read for’ negotiations.

Holly has an hour chill out time on her tablet. Most days now this is the only screen time she has but this has been hard for her… She was so used to constantly being engaged with a screen of some sort we have had to wean her off gradually, enabling her to use her imagination and her wonderful social skills.

At sleep time I go into Holly to do the goodnight routine we have established: baby kisses on her cheek, then I have to pretend to leave but spin around and plant a ‘dive bomb’ cuddle on her. ‘Again!’ she says, so I do it a couple more times.

I then have some screen time myself in the form of doing paperwork and report writing related to my ‘day job’. James comes home and we watch some comedy. The new series of Have I Got News for You has started so that’s tonight’s entertainment. James and I catch up about tasks done and those that still need completing. And that’s it! A day in the life of a foster Mum.

Today’s been a good one. No tantrums, no forgotten kit or lateness, no mega-sulks. It’s not always this straightforward but it definitely always this busy…..

Louise

 


Kirsty Williams

Kirsty is a foster carer from Dudley who supports twins with autism and was nominated and won an award to take part in Wear it for Autism, an event hosted by a charity promoting the awareness of autism. Kirsty, 27, was nominated for the award because of the exceptional support she provides and the advocacy she has demonstrated on behalf of the autistic girl-boy twins she supports.

She said “I was nominated for the award by the previous foster carer of the twins I foster. They both have autism, in different ways. The little boy is non-verbal and the little girl has mild autism and anxiety. I was nominated because of the support I offer, I was thrilled to then win!”

Kirsty started her career as a nursery nurse, and teaching assistant. She has completed training in Makaton and PECS to support youngsters with communicational special needs and completed a degree in Inclusive Studies and Disabilities. She also gained the Early Years Teaching status.

Autism is a disorder that affects many children, each in a unique way. A diagnosis can happen as early as 2 or 3 depending on signs and symptoms. The condition usually affects communication, behaviour and social skills. Children with autism may not have the same spoken language skills as their peers, and demonstrate limits on the language they use. Communication in other forms such as PECS or Makaton signs and symbols are techniques often used to support children with communication disabilities.

Kirsty met the twins when they attended the Pre-school where she was Deputy Manager. Their foster carer at the time was an older foster carer and the decision was made to find a younger fostering family for the twins.

Kirsty said; “When I knew the twins needed to move, it encouraged me to think about becoming a foster carer. I have developed lots of skills to support children who have autism, just like them. My brother is also autistic, so I already had a lot of experience of autism through living with him. In the back of my mind, I hoped that when I was approved I could foster the twins, and I was delighted when we were matched.”

Kirsty and her partner Martin, 28, support the twins together and offer them the life opportunities, support and care they need.  The previous foster carer has stayed in touch and is great support on days out.

Kirsty added: “ Their previous foster carer, Claire, has a fantastic bond with the twins. She had them from 6 months old and she is a really important part of their lives, we regularly meet up an enjoy days out with the twins together”.

For various reasons Kirsty was unable to attend the charity’s London awards ceremony, but she was delighted that the children’s previous foster carer nominated her for the award.

“I am applying all the experience I have gained and going one step further to support children who need the help that I can offer. I’d like to thank ‘Anna Kennedy’, the charity that hosted the fashion show.”

Anna Kennedy is dedicated to promoting the inclusion and equality of children and adults with an autism spectrum condition throughout society. The charity promotes its mission of disability equality by developing and sponsoring training, by raising awareness of the challenges faced by people with disabilities and also by its advocacy efforts with and on behalf of people with an autism spectrum condition.

Foster carers can make a big difference to the lives of children with autism. With training, guidance, support and understanding of autism, foster carers can make a positive impact on the lives of the children they support with autism.

At Capstone we welcome anyone with specialist skills who is thinking of fostering. We also provide specialist training for foster carers who are interested in support children with special needs and challenging behaviours.

 


Well done to all the young people and children who entered our recent art competition. You can see some of the amazing art work below that we received from across the South West.

 

South West artwork My New Family WP_20151103_14_26_02_Pro[1] copy 2 South West artworkWP_20151103_14_28_51_Pro[1] copy WP_20151103_14_29_53_Pro[1] copy


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