Oak Fostering was formed with the aim that all children deserve a family where they experience permanence, a sense of belonging and trust that this will remain their home into adulthood, regardless of anything they might do.
‘Children don’t just need to be loved; they need to know that nothing they do will change the fact that they are loved. They require reassurance that their lovability isn’t in question, which is another way of talking about self-esteem’
The directors understand the challenges of offering this unconditional love and care to a traumatised child and therefore chose to create Oak Fostering using a different approach to many other fostering agencies. While we value the importance of a family experience we recognise that the children within our service may not always fit naturally into a family setting and therefore we need to approach recruitment, matching and placement support differently.
We recruit and train our specialist foster carers specifically to care for children who have experienced trauma and who are not able to remain living with their families. As a result of the trauma they have suffered many of the children we care for have a range of needs and can display some challenging behaviours. Our carers are prepared fully for the challenges these children will present and are offered extensive support packages to help them through the difficulties they may face.
Unlike other fostering agencies the children we match and place with our carers are children we have cared for and know inside and out. We have laughed and cried with them, we have dealt with their challenges; we have built memories with them and supported them on their journey. This enables us to match placements in a much more informed way. Our carers will be given extensive histories, knowledge of triggers and strategies as well as first hand examples of the child’s behaviours, personality and interests.
We believe the support we offer our carers also sets us apart from other agencies. Because we know the children we place we can offer support from people who already have relationships with the children, who know how to engage with them and can work alongside you to achieve the best outcomes. Oak Fostering also feels passionately about not offering a one size fits all approach to support, we tailor make our support packages to work for the individual foster family. We recognise that this is a challenging role and we take our responsibility to support you with it seriously.
The support we offer is tailor made in a way that works for the individual child and family and can include on call support, babysitting, day care, consistent planned respite and many other forms of support. Many agencies offer on call telephone support but we feel carers need more than this; we seek to give our carers a different experience, the experience of not being alone.
We believe on call support should be someone who will come out to them if needed, no matter the time or day, and support them and their foster child through the struggle they are facing; this is what Oak Fostering offers. We also aim to create networks of carers who can informally support each other, who can meet socially and share experiences and knowledge further creating the feeling of being supported.
We believe that if we support our carers in the right way, they in turn can support our children to thrive. We recruit and train our carers to provide an environment which promotes thinking, listening, reflection, understanding and development. We have a strong focus on developing our carer’s skills and abilities in understanding and responding to trauma. We believe that providing carers with the space to think about their practice and about the children enables them to be more aware of how they manage situations and of why the children respond as they do.
This helps them to continually develop as practitioners and to assist the children effectively to make positive changes. We believe that work to help children deal with trauma is not only carried out by qualified therapists, it can also be through therapeutic relationships which do not solely exist within a therapy room. For this reason our carers whilst not being qualified therapists are trained to enable them to support children therapeutically.
For those moving to us from a White Orchid Care residential home we believe that if permanence is to be achieved it is vital that the progress made and attachments developed are not lost and the techniques and strategies that have proved effective are replicated. We are committed to working in partnership with White Orchid Care to ensure that the carers the children already have relationships with go on to support them with the transition and whilst living in their foster placements. We feel passionately that if we are to help these children develop secure attachments we must respect their relationships and ensure that key adults can continue to be part of their lives, not to just disappear when the child moves on.
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