Lost In Care

Over 12 years working in residential children's homes. 5 years training foster carers and care staff. Trainee child psychotherapist. 14 years in care as a child. Diary, anecdotes and rants about the good, bad and mediocre. Anonymised but all true.

Category: care system (page 1 of 2)

Why would a 14-year-old girl swallow a battery?

Firstly, before I become all “left-brained” about this, imagine actually doing it.  Close your eyes if you need to.  Imagine the feel of an AA battery in your hand – the size, the weight.  Notice how solid it is.  Now imagine resting it between your lips – the feel of cold metal.  Picture yourself pushing the AA battery, with the tip of your finger, all the way into your mouth and towards the back of your tongue.  Now imagine swallowing.  Go on – really imagine it.

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I can’t keep the children I work with safe (further thoughts)…

I recently wrote a piece for Community Care about the difficulties involved in keeping some looked after children safe and what I think needs to be done to address this.  If you haven’t already, you can read it here.  It received a much bigger response than anything else I have ever written – most of it positive or, at least, engaged with the issue, and some of it critical.

However, while it is of course flattering when people say nice things or agree with me on Twitter (I have an ego), I did not write it for these reasons.  Nor did I write it as clickbait for Community Care.   I wrote it because I am very worried about the issue and feel passionately about it.  It is for this reason I am pleased it got a bit of attention.

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Boredom in the counter-transference…

As most of you won’t have noticed, I haven’t written for a while.  I couldn’t think of anything to say.  Taken as a whole this blog is fairly bleak and I noticed the most popular posts were generally the ones in which I lay bare painful autobiographical detail or describe the traumatic experiences of children I have looked after.  There is value in telling these stories of course, but I think it started to skew the way I was thinking about my work and my own past – as if it was all just material to write about.  I gradually became uncomfortable with this.

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An Insecure Base

I said goodbye to Scarlett yesterday – tomorrow she moves to her fifth placement in the 18 months she has been “looked-after”.   She has been with us since Christmas Eve.  I will discuss why in a moment, but first:

What a cold, clinical and straight-out horrible word, it has just occurred to me, “placement” is.  There is a reason we use words like this as professionals – it’s a defence.  It protects us from having to confront the full reality of what is happening.  “Placement” doesn’t have quite the same emotional resonance as “home” does it?

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What is a therapeutic carer?

It is probably worth saying that I write this from the perspective of my background in residential children’s homes.  My knowledge of the experiences of foster carers and adopters is limited to some work as a freelance trainer for a few IFA’s.   That said, it is pretty obvious that many of the issues faced are the same.  And many of the attributes, skills and so on required for these roles will be similar.  It is definitely true that many of the  people I have met during my time in residential care and as a trainer did not have enough of these skills and attributes to undertake their roles successfully.

You will not find many children’s homes nowadays that do not market themselves as “therapeutic” (and presumably, by extension, this means the staff are therapeutically trained, right?).  Likewise, I notice the terms “therapeutic foster carer” and “therapeutic parent” are becoming common.

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They’re my family…

Obviously the word “family” is complicated and painful for all children in care because, irrespective of the circumstances, all of them are united by one simple truth – they are not living with theirs.

Images of “perfect” families abound in popular culture – films, books, even TV adverts, constantly bombard these kids (and, let’s face it, all of us) with idealised versions of what a family “should” be like.  Sure, siblings may argue but they make up in the end, or come together when they need each other – blood is thicker than water and blah, cliche, blah.

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