Session 10/15Page 6/7: Topic D: Improving relations in the foster family network
Topic D: Improving relations in the foster family network
The behaviour of children and youth who have been neglected often creates disagreement between members in the foster family’s network: the foster parents’ own family, the school, the kindergarten, friends of the family, etc. It can be difficult to make all parties find a mutual understanding of the child, its behaviour, and how this should be met. Disagreements can arise if the child behaves very differently in different situations.
Perhaps the child has problems being in close and intimate relations, making it frustrated and angry with the foster parents. It might not have the same problems in school, where there is more structure and not so many emotional demands. Or it may function well in the small environment and routines in the foster family, but be confused and disorganized by the many people, loud noises, and shifts in teachers or caregivers in school or kindergarten.
Consequently, it is only natural that for example foster parents and school teachers have very different views and perhaps disagree about what the child needs. Also, the relatives of the foster parents may have different views on the child: ”You are too firm with him” or ”you care much more for him than for your own children”, or ”I have no problems with him, why do you?”.
Here, the foster family from the first example describes how they worked to make members of the foster family’s network understand their foster child and work together:
”He was always very charming with new people, and he contacted everybody he met – even people in the street he didn’t know at all. People always responded by saying he was the sweetest boy in the world, and blamed us for being too harsh on him. But if he stayed with the same people for a longer time, like when he started in school, his problems became clearer. He had temper tantrums, he bullied other children, he couldn’t sit still, and he argued with his teacher about the simplest decisions. After a while his teacher started saying that we didn’t know how to raise him. This always happened with new people: first they liked him and then they were shocked by his behaviour in intimate situations. After a lot of discussions with us, she started to understand the problems of neglected children, and we could finally work together. We made a plan for how to hand him over in the morning and how to call each other immediately if there were problems. Today, we cooperate very well. He knows that we work together, and that he is protected and helped all the time”.
Another example: A case story about a foster family’s challenges in caring for a foster child and in cooperating with their network.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DIALOGUE
- Do you recognize these problems in your network concerning your foster child?
- What challenges have you met in making everyone in the network understand the child’s behaviour in different situations?
- Do you have experiences, ideas or suggestions about how to make people in the network cooperate?
CHECKLIST FOR UNDERSTANDING
- Why do children and youth placed outside home often have low self-esteem and feel homeless?
- How can you make the child feel that it belongs in the foster family, and has a space of its own?
- How can you work to help the child learn about daily interactions and how to respond in daily situations?
- What are your experiences in making everyone in the network understand the child in the same ways? How can you work to promote this?