We are the Von Trapp family!
We have been fostering for several years and have looked after 17 children, some just for a few months to another that stayed 8 years. My husband, Luke, has now given up his job to foster full time.
Luke has two daughters who are 25 and 22 and we have a son who is about to turn 15.
We look after 3 children; Trudy who has been with us for 2 ½ years and is a mainstream placement and Billy and Danny who are Therapeutically Led Care (TLC) placements for 6 months.
We also have two chocolate Labradors who complete our family; there is never a dull moment!
By writing this blog I'm hoping to give you a bit of an idea of our everyday life and how the small things can make such a big difference to a child.
As we have a child in mainstream and two children in the TLC programme we understand the different requirements and support required.
The support you receive from both teams is invaluable. You are assigned a social worker who you work very closely with and there is always somebody at the end of the phone to offer support and advice. A network of other carers that you can meet up with on a regular basis.
But with the TLC programme, you have a weekly meeting with a small group of other carers and a therapist. This is a time where you can talk about your children and share your thoughts. On alternative weeks you have one to one meetings with your therapist. This is an opportunity to talk more in depth about the successes of the week or the challenges that you face. The children are also paired up with a worker who they meet with on a regular basis. This is fantastic for them as they can build up a friendship, share worries, work on their self-esteem or just have FUN!
You are offered a wide range of training which enables you to offer the best care to your children, and a great opportunity to meet other carers outside of your group.
I think one of the first things to conquer is trust. The child has no reason to trust you when they first arrive. They don't know you from Adam, all they know about you has been shown to them on paper. This gives them an introduction to you and your family, pictures of you all and your home and a welcome message.
When the boys arrived I noticed that their toenails really needed cutting, so after the second bath I went to dry their feet and said to them "shall we tidy up you toenails, does your mummy use scissors or clippers?" I might as well of said I was going to cut off their toes as the response was so extreme, so I asked if they would like mummy to do it at the next contact, which she did. Over the months we have kept offering to cut the nails and they have seen me doing Trudy’s nails.
A month ago one of them had a sore toe and needed the doctor to look at it. When the doctor asked to look at it that same look came over his face. My heart sank, so I gave him a squeeze of his hand and hoped that he was going to trust me. Sure enough he said that I could show the doctor the affected foot and even let me put the sock back on.
Yesterday, as always after a bath, I offered to cut his nails he said YES! I'm not sure who was more shocked me or him, but I did it quickly before he could change his mind!
It doesn't always have to be massive things that change the relationships that you have with your children, but to them it can mean a lot. Take care From all The Von Trapps!!
Although our Therapeutically Led Care programme has only been available for the past few years, the children and young people following it have made spectacular progress and have benefitted, enormously, from it. Blue Sky Fostering carers who provide the TLC programme are given enhanced training, support and benefits.