Foster Care

Putting Children's Mental Health First

Martin Barrow | Posted 08.02.2016 | UK Parents
Martin Barrow

Most foster carers have little, if any, specialist training in dealing with mental health issues. We rely heavily on our own life experience, particularly the experience of bringing up our own families, and we look to our social work teams for support and advice.

Kitchen of Life

Martin Barrow | Posted 03.02.2016 | UK Parents
Martin Barrow

It has taken time but our foster children have finally got used to me doing the washing up, peeling potatoes and preparing lunch, although they still expect me to cut a finger when I chop carrots.

The Young Become the Old

Martin Barrow | Posted 18.01.2016 | UK
Martin Barrow

It is an unlikely friendship. He's pushing 90, blind and not as quick on his feet as he used to be. She's not yet four, and until recently rarely said a word. Now she has found her voice and she has plenty to say for herself. Within moments she is holding the elderly gent's hand and he is laughing out loud. If he's not careful she'll soon be helping herself to the cake from his plate.

Foster Care Works - This Must Be Acknowledged

Kevin Williams | Posted 15.01.2016 | UK Politics
Kevin Williams

Good foster care transforms lives and enables young people to flourish. The vast majority of young people in care are living with foster families who love them, and provide the stability and support that will see them grow into confident adults.

When the Numbers of Foster Care Don't Add Up

Martin Barrow | Posted 04.01.2016 | UK
Martin Barrow

How many children have we fostered? From now on, that will remain between us and the children, thank you.

Tis the Season to Be Caring

Martin Barrow | Posted 23.12.2015 | UK Parents
Martin Barrow

The season to be merry is in full swing, and all around us people appear to be having a great time. As a family we love Christmas and everything it stands for. We celebrate with close relatives and friends, reflect on the year that is drawing to a close and to make plans for the year ahead. But as foster carers? Well, it is complicated, isn't it?

Education, Much More Than Box Ticking

Kevin Williams | Posted 08.12.2015 | UK
Kevin Williams

Educational outcomes are easy to analyse, put in tables, and condemn and congratulate people for - but all too often it is forgotten that the focus of education should be on the child, on their needs, their wishes, and their aspirations.

Mum Moved To Tears By Stranger's Christmas Gesture For Foster Daughter

The Huffington Post UK | Amy Packham | Posted 08.12.2015 | UK Parents

A mother was moved to tears during a trip to a café with her foster, when a stranger left a sweet note for the child with a bit of Christmas magic. ...

Foster Care Is Renewal of the Human Spirit

Martin Barrow | Posted 06.12.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

As she runs off to play, I contemplate the wondrous capacity of the human spirit to overcome adversity. Just a few weeks ago this same child did not know me, and had never set foot in our home. All this is new and alien. She has been removed from everything she has ever known to become a looked-after child in foster care, with no sense of how long this might last.

Fostering Again

Martin Barrow | Posted 26.11.2015 | UK Parents
Martin Barrow

We are fostering again. Our home is filled with the sounds of children playing. Umpteen pairs of little shoes and wellies are piled around the front door, coats and jumpers are draped over stairs and chairs. There are toys in every room. Our foster children come in twos and threes, and sometimes it feels like being hit by a tornado.

The Kindness of Strangers

Martin Barrow | Posted 18.11.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

I count my blessings. This week I had the privilege of attending the Mind Media Awards and Fostering Excellence Awards in London on successive evenings. Both events are born out of human frailty but celebrate the extraordinary kindness and resilience of ordinary people in the face of often appalling circumstances.

Saying No Is the Hardest Thing

Martin Barrow | Posted 05.11.2015 | UK Parents
Martin Barrow

Few things trouble a foster care more than having to refuse a child placement. It is one of the most difficult decisions we face and is never taken lightly. We are committed to providing a safe haven to vulnerable children.

Every Child Leaving Care Matters

Martin Barrow | Posted 22.10.2015 | UK Parents
Martin Barrow

We take so much for granted. At our grandson's first birthday party we meet some of our daughter's friends. Now parents themselves, they gather with their babies and toddlers, sharing stories about broken nights and nappies, first steps and playgroups. Our home fills with the laughter of children and the accompanying chat of watchful parents. As hosts, our role is to make sure there is plenty of food and drink, so we spend a frantic, if joyous, couple of hours on the go.

Permanency Must Be the Gold Standard for Children in Care, Not Adoption

Martin Barrow | Posted 08.10.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

If adoption is to be the gold standard for looked-after children, then we appear to have failed as foster carers. Only one of the children we have cared for has been adopted, while a number of different outcomes were agreed for the other children.

Business, We Need to Talk About the Future of Fostering

Martin Barrow | Posted 28.09.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

We urgently need more foster carers. Another 8,000 additional families are required to meet demand for stable, secure and loving homes for record numbers of fostered children, according to The Fostering Network

Thousands of Foster Children Move Home Several Times a Year

Sir Tony Hawkhead | Posted 20.09.2015 | UK
Sir Tony Hawkhead

The keys to our success are our amazing foster carers. They do a fantastic job providing the love, care and support needed by children and young people who have too often had a very tough life. The stability those foster carers provide can make a huge difference to the futures of the children they support, in so many ways: in education, health, career, family life.

Foster Carers Are the Custodians of Memories

Martin Barrow | Posted 17.09.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

One day children who have been in our care will ask questions about their past that simply cannot be answered in a memory book. Above all, we hope that they understand that they were loved and cherished. And we hope that they know that they can come to us for those elusive answers. We are, after all, merely custodians of their memories.

Child Refugees Looking for Love in the Shadow of Our Own Homes

Martin Barrow | Posted 08.09.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

As for our own child on the beach, he is safe and well. Life will never be easy but he is strong and bursting with energy, and with support and guidance his future is full of promise. He visited us recently, and was received with an extra strong hug, in memory of Aylan. We promise he will never become a refugee in his own land.

Foster Carers Provide Loving Homes for Refugee Children

Kevin Williams | Posted 07.09.2015 | UK Politics
Kevin Williams

Europe is at a turning point. Now leaders from across the EU are listening to the calls to offer homes to those who are risking their lives fleeing tyranny and violence in their home country.

In the Fight for Our Children's Mental Health, Previous Generations Must Not Be Forgotten

Martin Barrow | Posted 04.09.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

By describing children's mental illness as an epidemic without precedent we are denying them a sense of perspective. We are building barriers between generations when we should be sharing experiences that may, at the very least, offer comfort in difficult times.

Sons and Daughters of Foster Carers Give a Great Gift: They Share Their Parents

Martin Barrow | Posted 17.08.2015 | UK Parents
Martin Barrow

Parents chose to become foster carers, and their children, to one degree or another, go along with that choice. They may not do so with the same conviction, even if they understand its value. But their consent is absolutely essential: they may not realise it, but the success of a placement is down to them as much as it is to the adults, and often even more so.

Foster Carers Are the Unsung Heroes of the Crisis in Calais

Martin Barrow | Posted 04.08.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

Foster carers have been unsung heroes during the Calais migrant crisis. Hundreds of migrant children have been taken into care and placed with foster families. Many of these families live in Kent but children's services are already having to look beyond the county for support because it is increasingly difficult to find suitable placements.

Our Family and Our Foster Care Journey

Jesse Toksvig-Stewart | Posted 04.08.2015 | UK Parents
Jesse Toksvig-Stewart

My mum has since gone on to have about 11 short-term foster placements with young children looking for love and stability. Many kids that with a good routine, structure and cuddles, blossomed into charismatic little people they had never got a chance to be.

Foster Carers Meet the Challenge of Summer Holidays

Martin Barrow | Posted 23.07.2015 | UK
Martin Barrow

In the heat of summer, enduring childhood memories are forged: of scalding sands on foreign beaches, of holiday romance and heartbreak, of campsite misadventures, of that first clandestine beer. Life-forming experiences in simpler times.

Keep Calm and Carry On... You're a Foster Carer!

Martin Barrow | Posted 07.07.2015 | UK Parents
Martin Barrow

Foster care would be that little bit easier if you could press a 'pause' button on your own life. What would we not give for some sort of arrangement to put everything on hold, as we work to resolve the seemingly intractable problems of the children who come into our care? But the reality is that our own lives carry on: stuff happens to us too, with no regard for the children and young people who have been entrusted to us.