Weathering an anxiety storm

It's 7:25am on a school day and the transport worker scheduled to pickup David (fictional name used) the 12 year old boy currently in our care is waiting in the driveway. While we aim to have him ready and on his way by 7:15am as long as he leaves by 7:30am he should get to school on time. Mornings are a struggle at the best of times but this morning wasn't so bad as David is in the final stages of getting ready and just needs to get his shoes on and fix his hair. On an impulse David decides he wants to take his black hoodie to school with him so he goes into his room to find it. As it always does the anxiety storm hits us without warning and escalates quickly. A few seconds after entering his room to grab his hoodie we hear loudly "No, … [Read more...]

Hated in my own home

Without warning one of the 2 year old girls we were caring for erupted into a panicked coughing fit in the room nearby where they were currently napping. It was nothing serious but she was panicked trying to catch her breath and upset by it. As I happened to be closest at the time instinct kicked in and I immediately dashed into the bedroom to assist her and make sure she was okay. As I walked into the room to see her struggling with her cough, she rejected my offer for help by turning away (while still struggling) until my wife entered the room in what was probably about five seconds behind me to provide comfort which she readily accepted. I was heartbroken. This is a reflective post on our first respite placement with sisters Karla … [Read more...]

Adjusting to new anxieties

Children in out of home care have faced trauma to some degree and this is often expressed through anxiety which itself can be manifest in a variety of behaviours. This post is describing our experience dealing with new anxieties we faced with a group of three siblings during our first emergency placement which you can read about here (I'd recommend reading that first as it might help to provide some further context to the overall situation which I won't cover here). We had already dealt with a variety of anxious behaviours through experience with different respite placements, but taking on an emergency placement with practically zero information about potential anxieties was a whole different level. There was no transition to speak of since … [Read more...]

An emergency Christmas

Three days before Christmas we were contacted about an emergency placement as we both had time off work over Christmas and opened up our availability to emergency and short-term placements aside from the regular respite placements we already had scheduled. We accepted a sibling group of three that had been removed from their home in the middle of the previous night, they were dropped off in the evening with a few emergency items (a set of clothes, pyjamas and a toy each) in a pillowcase and a nappy bag from their home. There was a 6 year old girl Joy, a 3 year old boy Arlo and a 1.5 year old boy Junior (fictional names used). We were under no illusions of what we were taking on but for context it's worth sharing this was going to be a … [Read more...]

14 questions to ask a carer before a placement

Before a placement, you may not always have an opportunity to speak with the carer that the child is currently staying with, however if you do, they can be a vital source of information. In our time as carer's, we have found that by having these discussions, it helps us to make the child feel at home, work out what we might need to source before they arrive, make the transition as smooth as possible for the child and minimise behaviours once they go back to their carer. Each child does have a profile and whilst this is helpful, the carer is most times the best source of information. This is the general list of questions that we work with, obviously we skip the ones that aren't age relevant. Keep in mind that these questions are written … [Read more...]

Insights, knowledge and bush dancing at IFCO 2015

My wife and I had the opportunity to attend the International Foster Care Organisation 2015 Tell Someone Who Cares (IFCO2015) foster care conference in Sydney in early November. As relatively new carers this was an opportunity too good to overlook so we blocked out our calendars and planned to make the most of the time. IFCO2015 is an international conference with about half of the speakers and attendees from all over the world so a range of different perspectives were presented. There was so much packed into that 3 days it is difficult to do it justice in a single post but I want to try and give an overview of what the conference was all about, some personal highlights and wrap up with some key takeaways. The conference was well … [Read more...]

By the numbers

I want to use this page to share some interesting statistics relevant to children in foster and out-of-home care. Over time I'll continue to update this with data I stumble across. Initially I'm focusing on statistics in Australia although I may add other statistics from around the world at a later point. One thing I want to remind you of, is to consider that the below is not just numbers, but each of those numbers represents a real child and associated impact for that child and family. Each metric is referenced to the original source, so if you find anything interesting I encourage you to follow it through to the source to find out more information about it. If you come across any interesting metrics which you think are worth adding … [Read more...]

Dealing with wariness

Our second respite foster care placement would be with our first set of regular ongoing respite arrangements: 6 year old Erica and her younger 4 year old sister Megan (fictional names and stock image used). This was my first experience of dealing with wariness and something we both found very challenging to work through so I wanted to share my experience of this. The issue didn't immediately present itself. In fact the carers had prepared the children incredibly well for their time with us and after some initial nervousness it didn't take them long to turn into chatterboxes and settle for their first night of sleep at our place. For the first full day with them we had planned an outing where we would visit Sydney Sea Life Aquarium. We … [Read more...]

Our first foster care placement

You can never be truly prepared for your first placement, like most things there is always an element of on-the-job training. It's kind of like learning to drive - you can watch other people drive, you can learn the theory and take the written tests, but all this only takes you so far and doesn't come close to actually getting behind the wheel of a car and experiencing driving for yourself. There was over 12 months of working towards foster care so we were mentally ready, we had cared for kids of friends and family before, we had gone through the foster care application process and completed the training, but despite all this there were many unknowns that we were yet to experience and this always leads to a bit of anxiousness about how … [Read more...]

Sharing the news with family and friends

If you decide to become a foster carer when and how you share this news with family and friends may be one of your least concerns but it is worth taking the time to think it through. My wife and I actually thought through this quite seriously and planned out our approach. There are three main reasons we thought carefully about this which translate into three pieces of advice I'd like to share from personal experience: A person you share your news with (1) may not end up being as supportive as you initially hoped, (2) may go on to tell other people you didn't want knowing yet and (3) once someone knows something they can't 'unknow' it. We approached foster care having been burned by all three of those points with our past journey through … [Read more...]