As responsible caregivers, we always make sure our children swim between the flags, but how many of us are taking unnecessary risks in our own caring practice? We talk to Fostering Kids NZ staff about what caregivers need to do to keep everyone safe.
Andeana Pilalis is the Critical Support Manager at Fostering Kids NZ. A big part of her job is supporting caregivers when things have gone wrong. She says there are some common mistakes which regularly trip people up.
Trying to do it on your own
“Firstly, caregivers trying to do everything on their own,” she says. This is a particular problem when they are a solo parent and/or living in isolation.
Andeana says it is crucially important to network with other caregivers, who “truly understand you and often have multiple solutions that have been tried and tested. Even if they can’t give suggestions, their empathy is genuine.”
It is a sentiment echoed by Fostering Kids NZ Senior Therapist Rob Surtees:
“It takes a village to raise a child and more so when caring for children who have experienced trauma,” he says.
At Fostering Kids NZ, we offer a range of events at national and local level – designed to help you build networks.
Not keeping a journal
Andeana and Rob agree, a detailed journal is essential. Andeana says “keep a daily journal – even if on some days you just record – nothing of significance happened today.”
Journals are crucial resources in the event of an allegation. They are also a way of processing your thoughts and feelings, and helping you to identify patterns in a child’s behaviour. A journal can also be used to celebrate successes and milestones in a child’s life.
Not making time for training
Caring for a child who has suffered trauma requires specialist skills – skills you can’t just learn `on the job.’
Andeana says “it is vital that you continue with a training plan – on average you should be doing some form of training between three to six times a year.”
“Learn how to understand and then manage behaviour. If you have an understanding of where the behaviour comes from it helps you to have tolerance and patience to help the child in your care.”
Senior Therapist Rob Surtees says “training is crucial to enable us to care for these children – whether it is understanding behaviour – safe caring – or understanding attachment, all training is empowering.”
Fostering Kids NZ offers free training sessions around the country. You can learn more about what we can our offer here.
Not insisting on a care plan
Andeana says it is very important to ensure that every child who comes into your home has a current care plan (this document is now called ‘All About Me.’)
Often, when a child is moved in a hurry, the paperwork doesn’t arrive when it should. Andeana and Rob agree – caregivers must INSIST the child is not settled in until a care plan is produced.
Andeana says we should all make sure we know the rules. “You should have been provided with a caregiver handbook when you first became a foster carer – make sure you read this regularly,” she says.
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