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Helpful tips :-started by Jean of Norwich

 1)Have a good and strong network of friends and family that you can turn to for support, there may be times that they understand you more than Social Workers and without the fear of being judged. Turning to family and friends I am sure has given me the space to sound off and gain encouragement to get through some difficult times with some of my Foster children.

2) It is easy to loose yourself in trying to meet the children's needs - keep or build hobbies or interests - self care helps you to care for the children better. Do not feel guilty about this - you need to recharge your batteries.

3) Create quality time for your partner. Relationships can suffer and communication can break down if you become only focused on trying to meet the needs of the children you are caring for. This problem arose in my relationship with my partner - thankfully we rescued it before it was too late.

4) Read the many books and articles that are available about Fostering - they have given me great insight into some of the problems encountered by Foster children and helpful ways to deal with some of the problems.

5) Attend the support groups that most local authorities have for foster carers -honestly share your experiences and be open to advice of other foster carers who might have experienced something similar to you. It stops the sense of isolation that can set in.

6) Keep a diary or journal that you put key events in about the children you care for and share it with your support Social Worker - sometimes there can be accusations from the children or birth family - so having carefully logged and reported anything that could be misrepresented helps you to defend yourself.

7) Be open and honest with your supporting Social Worker - this way a trusting and respectful relationship can be built - and the support you need may be able to be put into place.

8) Be assertive in securing what you are entitled to financially. Extra finances benefit the standard of life for all concerned. Remember, would a Social Worker do their job for nothing, or not claim all their entitlements? I think not! But often you may have to ask directly - Social Services are not often very pro-active in telling you what you can claim for.

9) No not expect perfection from Social Workers, it will save you a lot of wasted energy in not getting frustrated when calls are not responded to, appointments cancelled, lack of pre information about the child being placed with you, changes of staff, talking to you like they know the child better than you - even if the child has been with you several years! Etc. No profession is perfect; generally Social Workers are very busy and have the same human faults like everyone else.

10) Do not expect perfection from yourself either! I do not know of any perfect foster carers, we are all learning all the time. Sometimes we get the most learning from trying things that do not work, reflecting on them and thinking I will never do that again!

11) Keep things in perspective and keep a sense of humour. We are often dealing with some very troubled children - I have known foster carers who have become severely depressed and then unable to cope with the children they are caring for - which brings me back to my earlier point - look after yourself also!!

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