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Tips for coping when foster placements end

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How to cope with saying goodbye to a foster child

As a foster carer, during your fostering training, you are immediately prepared for the prospect of the fostering placement ending. The main part of your role as a foster parent is to facilitate a safe, secure environment for a foster child to thrive in – but, in most cases, the main goal is to reunite the foster child with their birth family. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that saying goodbye to a foster child or foster baby can be a difficult experience – especially if the child or young person has built attachments and connections with the foster family.

That’s why we’ve put together this useful guide highlighting tips for coping when foster placements end. Firstly, it’s important to understand the reasons why fostering placements may end:

Why do foster placements end?

  • Reunification – one of the most common reasons why foster placements end is due to reunification, as this is often the end goal for most children in foster care. This is the reunion of children in foster care returning to live with their birth parents or guardians. Our guide on tips for supporting reunification in foster care details how to support this process and more information about what reunification entails.
  • Types of foster care – as a foster carer, you might specialise in certain areas of fostering, for example, short term fostering. If this is the case, your fostering placements can often be as short as a few days or weeks – in which case, you’re likely to see these placements end, as foster children may transfer to a more permanent foster care solution.
  • Adoption – foster children may also get adopted, which would cause the fostering placement to come to an end.
  • Sibling groups – foster children may end up leaving a foster placement to be placed with their sibling in another placement.
  • Specialist placement – it may be that the foster child has a series of complex needs, such as behavioural or mental health challenges, which require specialist care. In this instance, therapeutic fostering would be the most beneficial placement route for them.
  • Broken-down placement – for whatever reason, sometimes placements don’t work out. This could simply be due to the chemistry between the foster family and the foster child not syncing, or it could be that the foster child is demonstrating challenging behaviour which would mean it’s no longer safe for them to be cared for in this environment.
  • Care leaver – foster children age out of the care system when they are aged between 16 – 18 years of age. Learn more about what a care leaver is, and what support they’ll receive when they leave the care system.

How to cope when foster placements end

Some of the top tips for coping when saying goodbye to a foster child include:

  • Close liaison with social worker and team – working closely with the supervising social worker and foster care support team is important, as this will ensure the transition is as smooth as possible.
  • Give them a memento – a scrapbook of memories, a letter or a poem are often common farewell gifts to give to a foster child, which will give them something physical to keep hold of when they have gone.
  • Keep in touch if appropriate – in many instances, it’s appropriate to keep in touch with the foster child once they have left. Make sure the foster child knows how to contact you if they need to. However, ensure the social worker has approved this before agreeing to this on-going communication.
  • Supporting care leavers – as a care leaver, it’s likely the young person will have many doubts and apprehensions about entering their adult life. As a foster carer, you can support this transition by helping them gain their independence during their placement. Understanding their background and their goals can help them align their life path, and it’s important to work with their supervising social worker in order to create this plan.
  • Aftercare support – once the child has left your family, there may be aftercare support groups that you’ll be referred to which will help cope with the transition.

Saying goodbye to a foster baby or foster child is likely to be a difficult experience – which is why Capstone offer fostering support 24-hours a day. We’re here to support you on every step of the journey. Find out more information about how to cope when placements end by getting in touch with us today.

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