foste mentor sandjea-marie adassa

ADVICE FOR CARERS

How having a mentor can really help your fostering journey

Author: Jamie McCreghan   In: Advice for Carers
foste mentor sandjea-marie adassa

Foster care is both a rewarding and a challenging profession, and having a mentor can make all the difference to your experience.

Sandjea-Marie Adassa has been a foster carer in London for more than 20 years. While she’s still actively fostering, these days she’s also mentoring newer carers who’ve joined the Lika family.

“Obviously foster carers have their Supervising Social Worker they can talk to, but if they want to have a conversation about any situation to do with fostering that they feel a foster carer might have a different perspective or a better understanding of, I’m here to listen and offer advice,” she said.

Got Questions?

If you want to know more about becoming a foster carer in London, ask our team here

cultural heritage
As young people get older, they become more accountable for their behaviours.

A mentor: A safe space for open dialogue

“There are lots of things that a foster carer has to deal with, like what’s going on for us mentally or emotionally—stuff that we hold differently to a social worker, because a social worker is also thinking about governance, safeguarding and reputational risk.

“It’s not that I have such amazing wisdom, it is just about being that listening ear for somebody—as someone who truly appreciates what they’re experiencing.”

mentors help foster care
Mentors can also provide insight into navigating the foster care system, managing relationships with biological families, and addressing the unique needs of children in care.

This lived experience allows Sandjea, and Lika’s other mentors, to offer practical advice, emotional support, and a deeper understanding of the challenges new foster carers face. A mentor can also provide insight into navigating the foster care system, managing relationships with biological families, and addressing the unique needs of children in care.

Support for the leap between theory and practice

Before you become a foster carer with Lika you receive extensive training. Once you become a foster carer, you receive both training tailored to your needs and 24/7 support from your professional team.

But translating all that theory into practice can sometimes be challenging. A mentor can help you bridge that gap.

“I’m always going to be very clear in the beginning of a conversation that if there is a safeguarding conversation or anything that puts them or the child at risk, we’re going to need to pass that on (to the agency),” Sandjea-Marie said. “But other than that, it’s an opportunity for me to share my experiences. It’s an opportunity for me to guide and say, not ‘I think you should do one of these three things’, but ‘these are three things that I’ve done before in this situation and you could do one of these three things’. But it’s all solicited by the foster carer. They’re reaching out and saying, ‘I want a different perspective; I want a confidential chat’.”

young man in foster care
By sharing their real-world experiences, mentors can help you bridge the gap between theory and practice.

Sandjea-Marie said a mentor can guide new carers through complex situations, such as balancing discipline with empathy for a child’s trauma-related behaviours, or navigating school-related challenges. She said by offering multiple perspectives and sharing what has worked (or hasn’t worked) in their own fostering journey, mentors can help new carers develop their own approach to these common challenges.

The Lika approach to mentorship

At Lika, we recognise the value of mentoring relationships, so we’ve incorporated it into our Ambassador Program.

This innovative approach allows experienced carers like Sandjea-Marie to offer support through one-on-one conversations, group sessions, and even participation in training programs for new carers.

This commitment to peer support sets Lika apart from other agencies. We nurture a supportive fostering community that benefits both the carers and the young people in their care. In fact, even those who are still being assessed to become a foster carer are invited to form a mentoring relationship with one of our more experienced carers.

foster kids playing
At Lika, we recognise the value of mentoring relationships, so we’ve incorporated it into our Ambassador Program.

Advice for new foster carers

Here’s Sandjea-Marie’s advice for newer carers who might be facing challenges or are struggling, and who might benefit from a mentoring relationship:

  • Don’t hesitate to seek support: Reach out to mentors, support groups, or your fostering agency when you need guidance or simply a listening ear.
  • Remember why you started: When things get tough, reflect on your motivations for becoming a foster carer and the positive impact you’re making.
  • Be patient with yourself: Fostering is a learning process, and it’s okay to make mistakes or feel overwhelmed at times.
  • Stay connected: Engage with other foster carers through support groups or mentorship programs, to share experiences and advice.
  • Prioritise self-care: Taking care of yourself is essential to providing the best care for the children in your home.
teenager skateboarding
Lika is a therapeutic fostering agency, rated Outstanding by Ofsted.

A little bit more about Lika

Lika is a therapeutic fostering agency, rated Outstanding by Ofsted. Every decision we take is based on Systemic Family Therapy principles. That means relationships, openness and honesty are at the heart of everything we do. All Lika foster carers receive extensive training in Systemic Family Therapy principles and therapeutic parenting techniques.

It’s similar to the training a newly qualified social worker receives (although not quite as technical) — so you’ll be fully prepared for your first placement and be viewed as a professional foster carer in your own right.

Being a Lika foster carer means always receiving specialised and consistent support from our expert team of professionals.

Your support will include:

  • 1 to 4 weekly supervisions with your supervising social worker to talk through and understand the needs of your young person
  • 24/7 out-of-hours access to one of the Lika team, so you’re never unsupported if things feel difficult
  • Access to Lika’s team of skilled and knowledgeable Systemic Psychotherapist Consultants and Systemic Social Work Practitioners, who are never stuck for ideas on how to support
  • Virtual monthly foster carers support meeting, led and chaired by experienced foster carers
  • Virtual fortnightly Therapeutic Family Consultations, facilitated by one of our psychotherapists and open to all our agency’s foster carers
  • Membership to the National Association of Therapeutic Parents and The Fostering Network
  • Life coaching for foster children, birth children and foster carers
  • Our Mentor Support Scheme, which partners new foster carers with more experienced foster carers
  • Free training for fostering support networks. (Your family and friends are welcome to join any of the training Lika offers.)
  • Access to Lika’s support workers, depending on the level of need for the young person
  • Access to Lika’s Educational Consultant, who can offer ideas and advocacy in supporting young people to achieve in education
  • Help from Lika’s Systemic Social Work Practitioners/Therapists, who can undertake skilled direct work without waiting lists for the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS)
  • 14 to 21 days of paid respite (depending on complexity) to recharge your batteries and have some space for self-care.

Thinking about becoming a foster carer?

If you’re in south or east London and you’re interested in becoming a foster carer, give the helpful team at Lika a call on 020 8667 2111. We’re here to answer all your questions.

We’re in the London boroughs of Croydon, Sutton, Bromley, Merton, Lambeth, Westminster, Wandsworth, Lewisham, Southwark, Islington, Camden, Hackney, Tower Hamlets, City of London, Haringey, Newham, Redbridge, and Barking and Dagenham, Hammersmith and Fulham, Kensington and Chelsea,We’re currently in Barking and Dagenham, Barnet, Brent, Bexley, Bromley, Camden, City of London, Croydon, Greenwich, Hackney, Hammersmith and Fulham, Ealing, Haringey, Islington, Kensington and Chelsea, Lambeth, Lewisham, Merton, Newham, Redbridge, Southwark, Sutton, Tower Hamlets, Wandsworth, Westminster, Enfield, Harrow, Havering, Hillingdon, Kingston upon Thames, Richmond upon Thames, Waltham Forest, Harrow, Essex, Nuneaton, and Tameside.

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