Last month we retweeted an article about the importance of contact for looked after children by Kevin Williams, CEO of The Fostering Network.
A key question raised in this article is how the social care system could ensure contact is more accessible and therefore beneficial to children and their families. He suggests that foster carers should be more involved in the decision-making around contact as they often have a deeper understanding of the child’s needs in comparison to other professionals in their lives.
As an IFA that focuses heavily on therapeutic childcare, Ascent supports its carers to promote the benefits of maintaining a healthy and consistent relationship with birth families if a child’s circumstances allow.
Our carers frequently share stories at team meetings and in supervision about the positive effects of contact with a child’s birth family as both helps a child to settle in their home and enables them to develop as professionals.
An effective relationship between foster carers and birth families can in some cases really help a child who is expressing trauma, confusion, fear and anxiety. Many looked after children worry about their family’s welfare when they are no longer able to live with them. Being able to spend time with a parent or sibling on a regular basis whether supervised or not can help to alleviate these feelings.
Maintaining contact with their biological family can also help a child to build a strong sense of identity.
There is a body of research available to those responsible for developing a child’s care plan, though this aspect of the decision-making process can appear at times to lack an evidence base or a long term perspective.
Ultimately we are of the view that contact planning needs to be a more considered process for children and young people as this can in many cases determine their capacity to reconcile with their birth families and will have an impact on their capacity to establish adult relationships.