Capstone Foster Care Blog

Capstone Foster Care’s ethos is ‘Building Brighter Futures’ and people often assume that this just applies to the children and young people placed in their care. This just isn’t the case.

My first experience of the fostering world was when I was 21 years old. I started as a Business Admin Apprentice for Real Fostering in June 2013. Real Fostering was a small independent fostering agency, which was acquired by Capstone Foster Care six months after I started. As a result, I found myself being employed by Capstone and eventually was successful in becoming the Panel Co-ordinator for the Midlands region working at the Kings Norton office.

I stayed in this role for the next three years and during this time, I started to consider my future career prospects and decided that I wanted to consider social work as my career path.

Being part of the panel and the influence of other social workers at Capstone motivated me to want to become a social worker. Listening to their experiences made me want to have more of a positive impact on young people’s lives.

At this point, I started to consider my options however, I still had a bit of work to do.  I didn’t have the qualifications required to get into University, so I looked into night school to get my Maths GCSE. For the next 12 months I attended class and passed my GCSE which then enabled me to apply for University in Worcester.

After passing my exams and being accepted into my chosen University I left Capstone in September 2016 to start my BA Honours Degree in Social Work. To gain additional experience before starting my degree Sara, the regional director for Capstone (Midlands) gave me the opportunity to shadow the social workers, attend meetings with looked after children, attend Pupil Education Plans, observe senior practitioners, offer support to carers and support with organising the children’s events.

Looking back now I feel really grateful to have been given these opportunities as it really helped me gain an insight. Transitioning into University I felt I had the confidence and knowledge about fostering that made me feel insightful when speaking about the foster carers roles with peers during group discussions.

During my degree I also took on a job at a local children’s home accommodating four children.  This was an opportunity for me to work with children directly and gain further insight from a child’s perspective. For me it was a real eye opening experience, especially when working with safeguarding issues. I felt it encouraged me to keep my perspective throughout the course as I had witnessed the affects that neglect and abuse can have on some children during infancy and impacting them as they grow older.

After three years of hard work and two placements in different teams, Young Carers and Safeguarding, I graduated from the University of Worcester in October 2019.  I am now a qualified and practicing social worker as part of a local authority safeguarding team.

My current role is to work with young people who are placed on a Child Protection or Child in Need plan.  My role is to offer the families I work with support, complete direct work with children and young people assessing risk and potential harm.

I feel appreciative of everything that Capstone has done for me in my life and my time with them. I feel the personal growth and journey I have had from when I first arrived at 21 years old to now has been unexpected and I feel the opportunities given to me by Capstone have supported me to achieve what I have up to now.

Being at Capstone and having the insight into the world of fostering encouraged me to believe in myself and motivated me to push myself to achieve more for myself to help others.

As well as giving thanks to Capstone, I will take some credit. I feel very proud of myself for persevering when I failed exams, did a full day at the office then went to night school for a further three hours. I have never really had a significant interest in anything career wise but my experience at Capstone as I went through my early 20’s motivated and encouraged me to want to do better for myself, and also the children entering the care system and in need of protection.


To celebrate Book Lover’s Day this year, some of our fabulous foster carers from our North team have reviewed some of their favourite books which are relevant to fostering!

Book Review by Nina, Foster Carer for Capstone North.

Title – Charley Chatty and the Wiggly Worry Worm: A story about insecurity and attention-seeking (Therapeutic Parenting Books) By Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies.

These books are really useful, I am sure, as experienced foster carers we have all had a child that talks for England about nothing… whether it be because they are worrying or just to make sure you are close by, I know I have. They give workable strategies to use when dealing with emotional and behavioral difficulties which can sometimes emerge when our children have had not such a good start in life for what ever reason.

They are great for any child to look through, alone or together with carers, and relate to the feelings, emotions and thoughts that “Charley” is experiencing.


Book Review by Michelle, Foster Carer for Capstone North.

Title – Sophie Spikey. By Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies.

This book is a fabulous tool for both children and adults to work together with.  It shows the anxiety that a child with attachment disorder following trauma suffered in early years displays. In the book Sophie cannot ask for help and tries to be totally independent from her mother (care giver) and is scared of being shamed if she admits to loosing her new shoes.  In my experience caring for a young man who has severe attachment disorder this total lack of trust in adults and the need to control every aspect of his life, making decisions without knowledge of the consequences and refusing help with everything is a copy of how Sophie is and how she tries to cope.

Children with any form of trauma related attachment issues will often develop behaviours that can, and do, interfere with their ability to attach appropriately to their caregiver, they will often be independent, angry when faced with a problem that they try to solve without help, they can be withdrawn or in some cases will be overly clingy and very needy in their demands. I would recommend this book not only for younger children but also for the older children as the strategies used by the mother and the similarities of the difficulties the young person will struggle with can be adapted for all ages.

 

Book Review by Adele, Foster Carer for Capstone North & Adoptive Carer.

Title – William Wobbly and the mysterious holey jumper!! By Sarah Naish and Rosie Jefferies.

This book is an absolute must read for any foster carers, adoptive parents, social workers and teaching staff.  As I started to read the book this could have quite easily have been my adopted son who was fostered prior to adoption. Any change no matter how small causes anxiety and worry, but for children who have suffered trauma this is compounded. Hiding under desks, chewing jumpers and hiding are all traits that my son displayed in his primary school. My 11 year old son read the book and said, ‘this could be me mum’. He recognised immediately that the wobbly feelings in his tummy were very real. Every primary school teacher should have a copy of the book as I am sure they can relate it to pupils they have and are teaching. Well done a brilliant user friendly book.

 

Book Review by Nina, Foster Carer for Capstone North.
Title – Who feels scared? By Sue Graves

Great short stories, fun and easy to share with young children, very well illustrated which gives lots of things to chat about. It shows that it’s only natural to be scared at times, at some point we all feel a little afraid of the unknown, but with the help of carers and friends to reassure and explain things everything will be alright. The book, hopefully, also makes children more aware of the fears and feelings of others. Great strategies to use to help children talk about their experiences etc

 

Book Review by Nina, Foster Carer for Capstone North.
Not fair, Won’t Share. By Sue Graves

Again, great short story with fun illustrations. Good to share with any young children, showing its much nicer to share and have lots of friends by being nice to others. Gets children talking about how they feel and how other children feel when left out, not invited to play, how to control our feelings, etc.


Capstone Foster Care are celebrating 10 years of building brighter futures and so are members of our team!
Tina Beech, Administration Manager for the South West, recently celebrated her 10-year work anniversary with Capstone.

So, in recognition of this personal achievement and commitment to our carers over the years we asked Tina to reflect on her own 10-year journey.

Tina Beech I joined Capstone in April 2009, well, actually, that’s not strictly true! Finding myself faced with redundancy, after a 30-year career with the same company, I decided to look for a total career change.

I had no idea what direction that might take, so I applied for the position of administrator at a small independent fostering agency called Windmill, based in Somerset. At that time, there was a small carer base supported by a team of three/ four staff. What a lovely change, I thought, a far cry from the hectic and pressurised environment of the industrial sector!

Well, by the time my DBS (CRB) check came through I was ready to start work, at which point talks were well underway between Windmill and Capstone – a total surprise to me on my first day! Over the coming months the acquisition went through and my career with Capstone began.

In those early days, there was no such thing as electronic case management – paper files were still in existence, panel papers were still photocopied and sent out in large jiffy bags in the mail. Panel minutes were taken by longhand in countless notebooks and the Carers Handbook was a massive file containing numerous photocopied documents which were handed out manually by supporting social workers!

Over time I have seen many changes, most of which have been introduced to make our working lives easier and safer.
As panel administrator I have had the opportunity and pleasure to be part of the fostering journey for many dedicated foster carers, some of whom have been with the agency for as long as I have and are still doing an amazing job supporting and making changes to the lives of dozens of children.

For a good many of my ten years I have worked with the same fabulous team of social workers and managers – individuals who have worked tirelessly to support their carers and the children placed with them.

During my career, which also included that of training co-ordinator for the South West, I have had the opportunity to get to know most of our foster carers in the region, and through the provision of tools and knowledge helped them develop their skills to become experienced carers.

Capstone has given me the opportunity and support to develop my own career over the years into one which I am extremely proud of. I still have a few years left to go and hopefully, the future will continue to develop and evolve, offering me new opportunities and challenges.


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