Lower North News – December 2017/January 2018

Kia ora koutou

Merry Christmas everyone

As the year begins to wrap up we’ve been blessed with such wonderful weather – good to see Summer is here and it seems like its early this year with temperatures well above normal.  Its been a huge year on many fronts.  Child, Youth and Family have begun their programme of change with the establishment of Oranga Tamariki, a new Minister for Children has occurred through the election process, continued changes to legislation around children being placed in care and transitioning out of care, and our own changes to our team here at Fostering Kids NZ.

I don’t know about you but I’m just about ready for some chilled out days in the sun, enjoying the Christmas season with family and friends (and quietly … some well-deserved sleep-ins – our children are a wee bit older now so we’re teaching them to make their own breakfasts!).  Try and have some personal fun for you too over this time!

A big thank you to all of you who serve, work with and support caregivers and/or children placed in our care.  Truly without you the care sector and indeed Aotearoa would be in a much worse place.

Our office will be closed from 1.30pm Friday, 22 December 2017 until Monday, 15 January 2018. During this time, should you require URGENT support, please contact 027 369 3323 and leave your name and contact number.  These messages will be checked daily.

We’ve had some great feedback about the Family Fun days at the pools or with Ten Pin Bowling around our region.

         

Lastly, below are some tips for this Christmas season as we as caregivers need to be extra mindful of:

Twelve Tips at Christmas (from Capstone, Foster Care – UK)

As well as a happy time, Christmas can be an emotional time for looked after children. It can bring up many emotions for them and this can mean that children can struggle to manage their emotions and their behaviour can deteriorate. There are some simple things that foster carers can do to try and help looked after children cope during this traditional family time. In turn, this will also help to create a happier Christmas for all

  1. Talk about Christmas

A child in care may have never had their own Christmas stocking or a tree or gifts. They may never have had a Christmas like your own and it’s important for them to understand what is going to happen. Explain your attitude toward Christmas and discuss with them their experiences of Christmas. Be ready to hear about their Christmases and encourage them to share good memories of Christmases past. Let them know that their way of doing Christmas can be integrated into yours.

2. Write a letter to Santa

Most children will do this at home or at school, and this will help a child to confirm that Santa knows where they are going to be if this is their first Christmas with you.

3. Expect this time of year to be really emotional

Consider this time of year to be emotional for the children and young people you support especially for some children who may not be able to see their family or may be worried for the welfare of parents or siblings. The emphasis on Christmas might make some children feel like outsiders in their foster home. It’s a delicate situation and a real effort should be made to ensure that the child feels treated on a par with the other children in the household. 

4. Maintain routine where possible

Children thrive on routine and maintaining this will help children to cope. If a routine cannot be maintained, organise and arrange a Christmas calendar ahead of each activity to help the young people to prepare. Talk through any worries and coping strategies for those circumstances which you know young people struggle. It’s always important to ask them what they may like to do and who they would like to see.

5. Lots of visitors can be overwhelming

Until you know your young person well and how they cope it can be better to limit visitors to manageable levels. If you include friends in your festivities, talk about them to the children you support. The more they know about who will be visiting, the less difficult it will be for them to relax amongst strangers. 

6. Alcohol can seem scary

Think about children who have witnessed the misuse of alcohol and drugs. This could cause anxieties for children if they are aware people will be drinking at home. To avoid children from getting scared prepare them with the concept that people may drink alcohol and this will be done in a respectful and responsible manner.

7. Children might not feel comfortable to receive gifts

Children who have not had much experience of Christmas and presents may find lots of presents and attention too much pressure for them. To help, spread out present giving. It doesn’t matter if presents are still being opened over the Christmas holiday.

Avoid putting pressure on children to react in the ‘right’ way. Children in care often have feelings of unworthy and undeserving this makes it really hard for them to accept praise, gifts and rewards.

8. Arrange a visit for the child to see their family

Organise contact with parents and siblings as close to Christmas day as possible. A lack of contact over Christmas might cause a child in care to worry about their parents, grandparents or siblings. By working closely with a child’s social worker, a phone call on Christmas day might be arranged, and the child’s birth family can support a child to enjoy Christmas, without worrying about them or feeling guilty.

9. Think about diversity and a child’s own birth family tradition

Respect a child’s culture and diversity. Celebrate their customs and religions as well as your own. Try to include something from the foster child’s own ‘Christmas traditions’. There is likely to be something they did at home that is important to them. It might be as simple as helping them to make a card for mum. 

10. Be prepared – especially on Christmas day

Children can be placed 24/7, 365 days a year, with fostering families and the Christmas period is no exception. As a foster carer it’s always worthwhile to have additional supplies and gifts – just in case. These are also useful for any guests who pop over during Christmas, who may overlook buying a gift for any additional children you might be looking after.

11. Involve the children in shopping for groceries

Some children may have concerns about whether there will be enough food. Let them help you shop for groceries for the Christmas meals. This will give them the opportunity to tell you what they like or don’t like or never ate.

12. Encourage a child to feel part of the family celebrations

Small things such as having their names on their own Christmas stockings and making it clear that these are their stockings to keep for next Christmas increases the message that they are a part of the festivities. It helps to make a point of doing something special with each child in the house. Each child can have a special Christmas related duty. This gives you some one-on-one with each child and allows them to feel involved and somewhat special.

If you need support or some advice please continue to contact Fostering Kids NZ (0800 693 323) and ask for me.

Me te whakaaro nui (with kind thoughts)
Stephanie James-Sadler

Key Contacts for Lower North

Tararua Foster Carers | Rae Dassler | 06 374 8849 | raedass55@nullxtra.co.nz

Manawatu Foster Care Association Inc. | Judith Williams | 06 323 5013 | judithwilliamsnz@nullgmail.com

Kapiti Foster Care Support Group | Ginny Higgins | 04 293 3826  gmhigg@nullxtra.co.nz

Wairarapa Foster Care Association | David Mullany | 06 379-9343 | mullany23@nullgmail.com

Porirua unique Foster Carers | Fiona Juchnowicz | 04 232 2512 | fiona@nulltrito.co.nz

Wellington Family and Fostercare Association | Coral Whitson | 04 970 4806 | whitson@nullparadise.net.nz

Training

The Term One training schedule is now live on our website. Please go and have a look at what we are offering next term. I would love to see you at one of the trainings. Registrations are required, please register here.  Or if you need any assistance or have any questions, please contact Christine on 0800 100 849.

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