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Coronavirus update – what is happening at Focus Foster Care

With new restrictions now in place and many local cities and counties being placed into lockdown, we felt now was an appropriate time to update everyone on what is happening at Focus Foster Care. The coronavirus pandemic has impacted us all, however, vulnerable families and children have been significantly affected. The impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the national lockdown has resulted in the fostering sector becoming very busy as the year has progressed.

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Fostering a child with Focus Foster Care – an interview with our foster carer, W

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer there is a wealth of information about fostering available online. You can find information from fostering organisations like Barnado’s and The Fostering Network and also talk to your Local Authority or the team at an independent fostering agency near you. Social workers and fostering organisations and charities can provide you with lots of information on fostering but the best way to get an insight into what life as a foster carer is really like is to talk to a foster carer. Each child is different and no fostering experience is the same, but speaking to someone who is currently fostering children or has done in the past will help you form a more realistic picture of what a career in fostering is like. One of our foster carers, W, has been fostering for six and a half years and has shared her experiences and advice for new foster carers in this post. If you are considering a career in fostering, we hope this interview is useful and informative.

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Meet the team – Honey the dog

Welcome back to a very special edition of our Meet the Team blog feature. The Meet the Team blog posts are here to give people a chance to get to know the Focus Foster Care team a bit better and to learn more about what everyone’s jobs here and what makes our independent fostering agency special. Our latest addition to the team is probably not who you are expecting…

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Hundreds of children are still waiting for their ‘new normal. to begin – how to help vulnerable children in your local area

This week children across the country will be returning to school to start the new academic year. The return to school this September will be unlike any new school year teachers, students, parents and carers have ever experienced before. Getting back to the classroom in the midst of a pandemic is understandingly going to be an anxious time for everyone. It is going to take children and adults a little while to adjust to all the Covid guidelines and teachers and students alike are at the base of a steep learning curve. Over the following weeks and months, hopefully everyone will begin to grow in confidence and will adapt to this new normal. Whilst families and school staff begin their new school life in these unprecedented circumstances, there are hundreds of children waiting for their ‘new normal’ to begin. It is important that children currently in the care system or living in ‘at risk’ family settings are not forgotten about as the rest of the population try to get some resemblance of routine back. As we all march head on into our new normal, ready to do all we can to keep Coronavirus at bay, there are children all over the country waiting for their new normal to begin.

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How to help a child suffering with anxiety

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in growing levels of anxiety and poor mental wellbeing amongst the population. With news reports available for consumption 24 hours a day and phrases like ‘death toll’ and ‘global crisis’ and ‘infections rates’ appearing frequently in article headlines, it Is no wonder anxiety levels in adults are beginning to soar. However, as adults we are able to have an understanding of what is happening in the world and why our daily lives have had to change so drastically over the last few months. For children, the pandemic has turned their whole lives upside down and they may be finding it difficult to understand and deal with all the changes. Several changes have been made to our daily lives that can trigger anxiety in children and young people: wearing masks, social distancing, frequent hand washing, the constant stream of bad news. Whilst as adults we might understand these measures and restrictions have been put in place to keep us safe, children may find this new way of life a bit scary and hard to adjust to. Pandemic aside, looked after children in foster care can face mental health issues and anxiety, triggered by factors like emotional trauma and living situations changing frequently and unexpectedly. Anxiety can make daily life feel challenging and overwhelming, it is important that parents and carers help children to learn how to cope with and overcome their anxieties. In this blog post we are sharing 5 useful things carers and parents can do to help their children who may be suffering with anxiety.

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More foster carers are urgently needed post lockdown

Children’s charity Baranado’s recently revealed that the number of children being referred for foster care increased by 44% during the coronavirus lockdown. The Fostering Network had previously stated that over seven thousand more foster carers were needed in 2020 to meet the growing demand for foster homes in the UK, this was before the pandemic even began. Barando’s also found that the number of people applying to foster during the pandemic dropped dramatically, by approximately 40%. At a time when more children were needing a safe and supportive foster family, less people were enquiring into fostering.  As a result of the surge in children needing a foster home and the already desperate need for more people to foster, the fostering sector is now in a state of emergency. Vulnerable children across the UK coming into the care system need a supportive and loving foster carer now more than ever. We need more people with a genuine passion to help children through difficult periods in their lives to seriously consider fostering as a career choice. More foster carers are urgently needed post lockdown, could you help a child in need?

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Welcoming LGBT+ people to join our fostering agency

Focus Foster Care is a supportive and nurturing independent fostering agency. Our registered office is based at Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire but we look after children from across the West and East Midlands and surrounding regions, with foster carers who live across these areas. We are excited about the opportunity to expand our existing team of dedicated foster carers who are committed to changing the lives of the children and young people they look after. Could this be you? To celebrate Pride month, we want to make members of the LGBT+ community aware that they are welcome to make an enquiry into joining out team of foster carers.

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Introducing our superhero drawing competition winners.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues across the world and here in the UK lockdown restrictions are slowly being eased, as a country we are more grateful than ever for our everyday heroes. The weekly applause may have stopped but key workers and NHS staff are still greatly appreciated and we all remain thankful for all the hard work they do. Foster Carers have been heroes during this pandemic and are during more normal times too. Foster carers help children get through some of the most difficult and traumatic times of their lives and help to give them the opportunity of a happier and brighter future. Foster carers can help biological families stay together in the long term and help children by providing a safe and loving environment.

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Advice from an experienced foster carer for people new to fostering

At Focus Foster Care we have an inspirational couple who have been fostering for over 40 years, R&J. They have fostered for local authorities as well as independent agencies and have been working for Focus Foster Care since our 1agency was first established in 2017. When it comes to sharing advice and giving an insight into what life as a foster carer is really like, R&J were the perfect people to ask to share their wisdom. Whilst all children are different and no placement will be the same as the last, there is a lot to be learnt from people who have been fostering for several years. R&J have cared for over 100 children, including two of their own biological children, and have supported children and young people from many different backgrounds and family circumstances. R has shared seven pieces of important advice for new foster carers and for people thinking about pursuing a career in fostering. We hope this insight into life as a foster carer helps people thinking about fostering to understand more what it is really like….

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The lessons lockdown is teaching children and young people – not all learning takes place at a desk

It has been over a month since schools across the UK closed and parents and carers were given the task of educating their children at home. Whilst many parents may be thriving in their new role as teacher and their children responding well to the change from classroom to kitchen table, other families may be struggling.

The pandemic has changed so many aspects of daily life in such a short space of time and people looking after children are now being asked to do more than ever before. Parents must now juggle working from home alongside caring for and educating their children, all whilst dealing with the anxiety and stress that comes with living through a global crisis. The pressure and expectation to ‘do it all’ can be overwhelming and many carers and parents may feel as though they are not doing enough to educate their children at home. It is important for everyone to remember that children will find it difficult to learn in a stressful environment and anxious and overwhelmed parents do not make for the best of teachers. It is equally vital that parents do not put added pressure on themselves during this time and only do as much home schooling as they can without negatively impacting their own and their children’s mental health. Home should be a safe and happy space and the last thing children and their care givers need right now is to be arguing over school work

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