The role of a foster carer is to provide a safe and secure environment for a child who cannot remain at home with their birth parents or guardians. There may be several reasons why these children are taken into foster care, such as violence in the home, alcohol abuse, the loss of a parent or because of a mental health issue.
When a child is placed into foster care, they remain with their foster carers for a brief period until they can be reunited with their family or until a longer-term placement is found. When this time comes, it can be difficult for both foster carers and foster children to deal with. However, there are several strategies foster carers can apply to ease the pain of a placement ending. Here are some that we think will help:
1. Create a Memory Box
Memory boxes can be powerful things that can help foster children cope when a placement ends. They physically represent your time together, reinforce memories, and give your foster child something to look back on in the future.
Thankfully, creating a memory box is easy. Before your foster child leaves you, work together to fill a box with photos and other bits and pieces you’ve collected from your time together. You can also write them a letter, explaining to them what impact they have had on your life and how much you’ve enjoyed getting to know them.
2. Keep in Touch (If You Can)
Whether you’ve been fostering in Somerset or another part of the UK, it can be hard to cope when a foster child leaves you. One way to help you deal with this sense of loss is by keeping in touch with your foster child. You can drop them a text, send them an email, or organise a video chat to see how they are getting on. However, before you do this, you must first check that this is okay with your foster care agency.
3. Find Support
No matter how many times you’ve fostered before, it can be upsetting to say goodbye to a foster child. However, you are not alone; many people have experienced this pain and sadness before. Fortunately, there are lots of support groups for foster carers that can help you through this time. Almost all of the people in these groups have been through this experience before and will know how you feel.
4. Take Care of Yourself
While feeling low when your foster child leaves is typical, you must watch out for signs of depression. If you find yourself struggling to deal with this situation and you can no longer complete typical day-to-day activities, contact a doctor for advice.
5. Do Something You Enjoy
To take your mind off your foster child leaving, busy yourself with something you enjoy. This might be going for a walk, watching a film, or taking a long bath.
Being a foster carer is one of the best experiences you will ever have; however, there comes a time when you must say goodbye to your foster child. The end of a foster placement is an emotional time for most foster carers and children. While this may be true, there are some things you can do to ease this pain. The tips above will help you cope when your foster child returns home or moves on to another placement.