29 November 2016: News Round-up
Far greater support is needed to help carers combat the impacts of compassion fatigue or “blocked care”, according to the first national study into the issue led by the University of Bristol and training group Fostering Attachments. Compassion fatigue can be felt as a physical and emotional response to the stress of caring for those who have experienced trauma. “It involves a decrease in empathy and a decline in feelings of pleasure, alongside an increase in stress, anxiety, sleeplessness and negativity,” the report says. In her introduction to the report Fostering Attachments MD Sarah Naish noted that while compassion fatigue was well-documented in other fields such as nursing there was no useful data relating to its impacts in fostering and adoption. The researchers found that those who worked for Independent Fostering Agencies had significantly higher levels of compassion satisfaction than those working for Local Authorities. “This suggests that the agency has a key role in enabling carers to remain committed to fostering and enjoying their work,” the researchers concluded.
Meanwhile Leicester University and the Colebrook Centre have published a final report into the Head, Heart, Hands project to integrate social pedagogy into UK foster carer practice which was rolled out across seven fostering services. Among the project goals were the development of more confident, professional group of foster carers more able to improve the day to day lives of children in their care. The 186 page report uses feedback from interviews and analysis of case files to point to many positive examples of improved practice. It did point to some differences between current UK local authority approaches and those of social pedagogy. For example some supervising social workers noted that the tendency towards accountability and bureaucracy in local authorities and their own statutory role appeared at odds with what they had learnt through the programme. And while foster carers were willing to take a less risk averse approach to caring if it enabled the young people in their care to develop this was sometimes not approved by the children’s own social workers.
More than a third of young people in care were unable to find out useful information about the placement they were about to move to, according to a survey carried out by Ofsted. In its response to the survey, the Fostering Network described this as “far too many” adding that this was a long-standing issue that must be addressed, However it went on to say: “This report from Ofsted highlights the excellent work that foster carers are doing – for example, 99 per cent of fostered children and young people said that they feel safe in their foster home all or most of the time, and 94 per cent said that they feel part of their foster family all or most of the time.”
A BBC report highlighted the work of Plymouth’s Trevi House which enables pregnant but drug-addicted women to remain with their babies after giving birth and during detox, rather than the newborns being taken into care.
CYP Now reports that the government is going to test the use of mental health assessments for children entering care in ten areas from May 2017. The idea proposed by the Commons Education Select Committee was initially rejected by the government.
And finally Martin Barrow is urging people who have had enjoyed a good career to take early retirement and foster instead.