Consistency in Foster Care
In my work with Foster carers I rarely see the child in placement. Sometimes they are already in therapy; which I don’t need or want to disrupt. In any case it is the carers’ relationship with the child that is my currency. Most carers understand the need for consistency for the child both within and between themselves. When this is not maintained doubts can arise in the child’s mind such as; ‘Why have things changed?’, ‘Am I still safe here?’, and ‘Where will this end?’
A little thing such as a change in routine, even if it is for the better for the foster child, can lead to such doubts and often consequent emotional and behavioural problems. Once the consistency breaks down it may trigger associations for the child from their past when they probably lived with inconsistency on a daily basis. Feelings of confusion fear and anger may surface and the child might deal with these by rejecting you; the foster carers, as you appear to be the source of these feelings.
School , Home Balance
Foster carers usually embrace consistency and all is well at home. However a frequent difficulty occurs when the child s attends school as the ability to achieve consistency between home and school is much more difficult. Whereas a foster child might be the focus of attention at home he or she is one of many at school. With the best will in the world there is just not as much time to meet the needs of each individual child as at home.
In an ideal world a link person between the foster home and school would be in place and perhaps such roles exist in some areas. In their absence though, I would recommend two way communication, understanding and planning!
Brenda McLackland , Associate Clinical Psychologist