Looked After children – safe on social media?…

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Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/alessandroiryna

“He’s writing horrible things about me on Facebook…”

Sound familiar? I’ve spoken to two people recently who’ve had problems with children they look after being exposed to problems on Facebook.

Like any platform for communicating and sharing, Facebook is brilliant, but it has its perils.

This can be particularly acute when relationships are already a problem and where contact is limited. Like when children are in the care system or being looked after by kinship carers.

We are pretty hot on keeping our kids safe on the roads, from strangers, etc. But how about online?

Social media: keep the good, avoid the bad…

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Kinship carers: unsung heroes of child care…

Grandparent carer...

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/lammeyer

In our last post on foster care, we lifted the lid on those who open their lives to other people’s children.

We also explored the nature of the sacrifice required from carers.

Many of the comments after the piece were from kinship carers – essentially those who foster children from their own extended family.

This got me thinking about the differences between foster care and kinship care. So I did some digging around. The results of this enquiry had me shocked…

Why kinship carers are heroes!…

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In praise of foster carers…

Why foster carers rock!

Foster family portait

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/omgimages

My career has been punctuated by encounters with people.

That’s the nature of social work, I guess.

Apart from some amazing teenagers, the group who’ve impacted me the most has been foster carers.

They never cease to astound me!

Why foster carers rock!…

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National Adoption Week – agency highlight…

Photo courtesy of ©After Adoption

Photo courtesy of ©After Adoption

As many of you will know, I have an interest in adoption.

In today’s post – as part of our National Adoption Week series – I want to highlight an agency that I think is brilliant (Don’t worry, they’re not paying me!).

After Adoption is a voluntary adoption agency working throughout England and Wales to help all those affected by adoption.

From placing children with adoptive parents to supporting birth families and reuniting families separated through adoption, they can work with all groups of people affected by adoption.

Why post adoption services matter…

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National Adoption Week – 5 reasons to celebrate!

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/LindaYolanda

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/LindaYolanda

I love adoption. Both my kids are adopted – it’s the best thing I ever did.

Whether you’re adopted, an adoptive parent, a foster carer or whatever, National Adoption Week is a chance to celebrate.

I want to use this week-long national focus on adoption to shine the light on related issues, agencies working in the field and one fund-raising opportunity. Most of all, I want to celebrate adoption, because it’s fantastic!

Why adoption is fantastic…

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Adoption: YET MORE tips for the curious…

boy needs a family 3

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/Stacey_Newman

Wow – what started as a quick list has become 3 not-so-quick blog posts!

After the first and second posts on this subject, I had a growing number of responses via LinkedIn, offering more and more advice – some of it really good. So I thought that I would continue to share these here.

I haven’t quoted the commenters verbatim, or credited them, as I haven’t had their permission to do so (though I did ask).

Yet even more good advice for those considering adoption…

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Adoption: MORE tips for the curious…

boy-needs-a-family 2 Istockphoto stacey_newman

Photo courtesy ©iStockphoto/stacey_newman adapted by Jonny Matthew

After the first post on this subject, I had a number of responses via LinkedIn, offering other bits of advice. So I thought that I would share the essence of these here.

I haven’t quoted the commenters verbatim, or credited them, as I haven’t got their explicit permission to do so (though I did ask).

There are some real crackers here from those working and living on the front line of adoption practice:

More good advice for those considering adoption…

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5 tips for the curious...

Boy Needs Family - iStock_000012148896XSmall

Photo courtesy ©iStockphoto/stacey_newman

16 years ago, I took part in my first adoption.

It was a nerve-wracking process. First time experiences usually are!

This wasn’t one of my usual fads. A new hobby that I would pursue vigorously for a few months before moving onto something else. This was much more important. This would be a new life entering our family!

But this was different…

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Gangs: advice for parents & carers…

GangsThe government has issued a new advice leaflet for parents and carers.

The 12 page document is called, “Advice for Parents & Carers on Gangs: Helping Young People Make the Right Choice.”

The following are the main headings covered:

  • Why do young people join gangs?
  • Signs to look out for
  • It’s not just the boys
  • What can you do?
  • What if your child is already involved?
  • What the law says
  • Useful contacts

In my view this is a very worthwhile leaflet to read. It breaks down the issues very well, offers practical advice and access to other useful resources.

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What everyone should know about childhood brain injury…

Acquired brain injury (ABI)…

Bandaged brain - iStock_000011517001XSmall

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/DebbiSmirnoff

“In one moment, every year, approximately 50,000 children and young people’s lives will change forever. They will acquire a brain injury through an accident, illness/tumour or poisoning. It is not their fault and they do not expect it to happen.”

Lisa Turan – Chief Executive, Child Brain Injury Trust

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40 is too old to adopt…?

20121105-153450.jpgA 48 year old adopter begs to differ!

A report conducted on behalf of BAAF, questioned 2100 people about various aspects of adoption & fostering.

Among the misunderstandings reported by the subjects, were beliefs that amongst the factors that would act as a barrier to adoption, were things such as:

  • Having a criminal record;
  • Being single:
  • Being gay or lesbian;
  • Being from a low income family, and
  • Being over 40.
  • Also, a third of those questioned believed it would take around 3 years on average, start to finish, to adopt a child.

I was privileged to spend a number of years sitting on an adoption and fostering panel. Along with colleagues and lay members, I helped in the approval process for prospective adopters and foster carers. During that time, I witnessed applicants from each of the above groups apply successfully to foster and/or adopt children.

Looking back, in fact, it wasn’t these kinds of issues that marked people out; it was the overwhelming desire to be parents and the refreshing and well-informed willingness to embrace the additional challenges presented by adoption. Whilst panels have to give due consideration to applicants, the priority is always to ensure the welfare of children and adopters. I never once saw even a hint of prejudicial practice that would exclude anyone on the kinds of mythical grounds assumed by those questioned in this study; nor would the guidance or the Courts allow it.

I have another qualification to speak on this subject – my two adopted children! So I can speak as one who has sat on the other side of the table at a panel hearing. As it happens, during my second journey through this process, I was 41 years old. Whilst I had quite a clear subjective sense of being an ever so slightly “older parent,” at no time was this reinforced, or even mentioned, by the professionals involved. It just wasn’t an issue.

Indeed, in more than a dozen years of involvement as an adopter, I have had a universally positive experience of the whole thing. There have been all the usual challenges of bringing up kids – the kinds of things that have tested parents since time immemorial – but like all parents, adoptive or otherwise, that’s what I signed up for.

But I was 41 and that wasn’t a problem; and in both cases the process took less than 18 months from initial phone call through to having the child move in!

Personally, I think everyone involved in adoption should work not only to bust open the myths, but to celebrate the delights!

Ask not for a good reason why you should adopt; ask yourself why not

What do you think?

  • Will you be celebrating National Adoption Week? If so, how?
  • What experiences of adoption have you had?

Please contribute to this by adding your own thoughts and experiences. You can  leave a comment by scrolling down, or just click here.

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© Jonny Matthew 2012