My name is Lara, I am a currently studying Social Work at Plymouth University and Capstone Foster Care has been my final practice placement. At Capstone I have been made to feel valued and part of the team, while encouraged to develop my knowledge around attachment and the effects of childhood trauma.

The priority at Capstone is improving the lives of children and young people through finding them stable and nurturing placements. I have had the opportunity to take part in the many training opportunities offered to staff and foster carers, on a variety of subjects to support reparative parenting.

A highlight of my time at Capstone has been working with our foster carers and the young people they support. I have enjoyed meeting talented, resilient young people who are achieving their goals and making plans for their futures.

Through a lot of hard work, commitment and compassion foster carers are providing children with a nurturing environment in which children and young people can thrive. Working with a team of child-focussed social workers and foster carers has been a fantastic opportunity in my professional development.


On the 15th April our Devon carers and children had a get together at Crealy Family Park. Capstone have held this type of event over the Easter period for 3 years now, and this year proved yet another great success with children making new friends and carers meeting and supporting each other with advice and friendship.

The Easter Egg hunt was fun and through some fantastic team work clues were solved and each of the children received an egg from the gigantic (but not scary) Easter Bunny.

You cannot understate the value these events have for our children… Knowing they are not the only ones living in foster care and that other children have shared experiences too can be very therapeutic and a lot of fun!  The event enabled our children to meet up, some of whom had been on respite together previously – it was the perfect opportunity to see friendships flourish.


Sharon and David Radford began fostering after having enjoyed parenting their own 2 children. Before they knew it their children had grown into mature young adults who no longer needed so much of their time, and so they began their foster care journey – an experience they both found enlightening.

Sharon explained:

‘I learnt so much about myself. For me parts of the process were very difficult, it was a form of counselling and I had to revisit some difficult periods from my life and deal with some issues.

David found the process to be fine however, on occasion felt it was slightly intrusive.

Chloe our daughter, who at the time was 17, loved it and sat in on most sessions and asked questions. She found it to be all very interesting. Luke who is shy and was 19 at the time only offered information when asked, I know he found it to be a long process.’

When Chloe left for university at the age of 18, Sharon had so many mixed emotions. She was proud of her but missed her company. Luke had only recently left home himself and she was also missing him.

Sharon said:

‘We missed the chaos, the noise, the laughter and the joy that we had experienced as parents. We still had so much more to give and felt that we had the skills and patience to offer a fresh start with a bright future to children and young people that had experienced a difficult start to their lives.’

Sharon and David waited months for their first placement. They were nervous but also excited as they had had the opportunity to meet the young person who was to become part of their family a few times before the placement date. They had undertaken a parenting course at a local college prior to the young person joining them and felt we were equipped and ready for the challenge ahead.

Sharon said about her first experience:

‘The main difference that we have experienced is that the young person we have with us has not been nurtured from birth like your own children.

They are very angry and deeply hurt, they build up barriers to protect their feelings. It takes time, patience and understanding to build up a relationship with trust, which can disappear in an instance. They rebel and test your loyalty, pushing your buttons to test you sometimes to the limit.

It can prove to be a long process but with time patience and persistence rewards are sure to come as they slowly learn to trust.

The key similarities to bringing up our birth children and nurturing looked after children is that they all thrive in a loving stable safe home with boundaries, a structured routine and consistency.’

David said:

‘We have been supported by all our Capstone supervising social workers and when faced with difficult times Capstone have always supported and guided us through the storms. They have also been there to share the good times and recognise the hard work we do. We are offered training and support, we feel valued and appreciated.’

 

 


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