We spoke to one of our Community Psychologists to ask how we could talk to our children about their feelings during these scary times. It’s not always easy, but it is incredibly important.
We reached out to our foster children and asked what their main worries were during the pandemic, and many of them said that they were worried about when the pandemic would end. They also said that they were struggling not being able to see their friends as they normally would.
We wanted to know how our young people were dealing with lockdown and asked what helped them feel happier when they were feeling a bit down.
5 year old L said ‘‘My foster mum did lots with me, we went out for bike rides and she helped me do schoolwork’.
Nine-year-old C said, ‘I did colouring, listening to music, bike rides, baking, games, gardening, Zoom quizzes.’
13 year old J said ‘It gave me some time to let me focus on myself and try and help my mental health to get better soon.’
16 year old S said ‘I haven’t been in a good place at times and if it wasn’t for my carers, I don’t know what I would do. After some things have happened, I’ve felt lost. I still feel like that a bit, but I’m lost but not alone. If that makes sense.’
16 year old H said ‘It had a very big impact on my mental health and it became very worrying for others around me.’
We asked our carers whether their foster children’s willingness to join in with meetings had changed during lockdown. Most of our carers had found that their foster children have been sitting in on more meetings and they are happier to engage virtually rather than in person.
One of our carers, Tracey, said that her foster children ‘don’t enjoy face to face meetings at all but they’re happy to join in virtual meetings (letting me know where I am going wrong with technology) and leave meeting when they’ve had enough!’
Foster Carer Mental Health
We made sure to check in with our carers and young people, making sure that they felt supported and if they knew who they could go to for advice.
It has been a tough year, and Compass are very much a sociable bunch, so it’s been challenging for our foster families to not have our usual meet ups and coffee mornings face to face. We’ve made sure to keep on running our support groups virtually, and these have proved valuable to those who have been able to join.
Our carers Dan and Ash said that ‘we’ve been able to keep support groups going which has been a positive. Often just talking to someone in a similar boat to you is a comfort.’
The majority of our foster parents prefer face to face meetings. Dan said ‘it’s more personable, and it creates a better structure for everyone involved. There’s less distractions and everyone’s attention is fully on each other’.
At Compass we offer our foster carers psychological support as well as our looked after children. It is helpful for adults to be familiar with any of their own trauma or potential triggers in order to be an effective therapeutic parent. Our therapeutic services are a tool for our foster parents to call upon, as well as the support from their social worker and senior staff.
Keeping Up with Training
Compass Fostering had to adapt due to social distancing, so weekly supervisions, training, annual review panels and support groups were held over phone calls or video calls.
Our foster carers have enjoyed attending training virtually, and say they’d be very likely to attend more online once restrictions were lifted. Being able to meet other carers is important to our local groups, it’s a nice way to be able to build up a strong support network.
Compass Unity Event
2020 was a very isolating year for many people, especially those who have to juggle work life and have a family to entertain and look after! During February, to beat those winter blues, the Compass Community came together for a Compass Unity Event. We like to get together with our foster families in local groups and meet ups, and we hadn’t been able to do that for a whole year!
The brilliant Long Nose Puppets put on a virtual viewing of ‘The Hug’ based on the beautiful story by Eoin McLaughlin and Polly Dunbar. We wanted out community feel that ‘we can still be together even though we’re apart!’
Everyone that watched really enjoyed it, and we had some fantastic feedback from our carers, children and young people and our staff.
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster parent or want to find an agency with the right support for your family, you can speak to Compass Fostering. You will be supported on your fostering journey every step of the way. Compass provide training, resources and a caring community to help you become a confident carer – get in touch to find out more.