Eugene is a qualified social worker with extensive experience in long term safeguarding, working directly with children in need, at risk of harm and looked after children. Eugene is also a systemic practitioner and works directly with social workers to support guide and develop good social work practice.
He has kindly agreed to share some of his perspectives on working as a social worker within fostering contexts in the hope it will give future foster carers a deeper understanding of the role and reasons why Lika is an agency you should consider joining!
What’s the most rewarding part of your job as a social worker?
This is a difficult question to answer because there are so many parts of my job that are greatly rewarding. If I have to choose then it would be when I am able to see the tangible effects of my intervention with a family or with a social worker. For example, when a parent/child/social worker would demonstrate something that I have previously demonstrated, advised or helped them think about. It may not be often that frontline workers are able to see that tangible effects of our intervention because change takes time. So when I am able to see this it is rewarding because it makes me feel that I am contributing to positive change and/or development.
When you talk to child in foster care, what do they say makes a good carer?
When I have spoken with children in care, these are some of what they have suggested makes the best carers;
- A carer who is patient and waits for the child to open up if/when ready
- A carer who shows that they care for them
- A carer who speaks to them like they are a part of the family
- Who makes them feel at home
- Who they can talk to
- Who who tells the truth
- Who stands up for them
- Who makes them feel safe.
- Who makes good food!
The day a child leaves the care of their parent and/or primary carer will be one of the most significant moments in their lives. Regardless of their circumstances, going to live with a stranger is something that brings about a high level of anxiety. A carer who has an awareness of this and is able to adapt to meet the needs of the child is a carer whom a child would recognise as ‘good’
What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about foster care?
I think people, outside of the social care system, think that foster care is an “instant fix.” That vulnerable children will be open and grateful for a place of safety and instantly settle.
Foster carers have a very challenging but hugely rewarding role in creating an improved and safer life for some of the most vulnerable children in your society. However, this is not often a ‘smooth’ journey and will come with a range of challenges.
When you need to find foster placements for young people, what do you look for that creates that great match?
I would take the physical and emotional needs of the young person into consideration in order to find placement that best meets these needs. Consideration of the young person’s ethnicity, culture etc would be considered. A foster carer that can best meet the holistic needs of a child
A foster placement should be a place where the young person is able to build positive relationships with their carers and family.
There could be many different scenarios where a foster placement for young people could be sought. For example, emergency situations the focus is placed on immediate safety when looking for a foster placement and in this case, the “great match” may not always be possible. However, it the benefit of time and planning the goal would always be to create the best match possible.
Matching a young person with a foster placement is on of the crucial moments of a looked after child’s life. As a result it is important that the child is involved as much as possible. Additionally, the views of the significant individuals around the child should be taken into account.
Why did you choose to join Lika’s independent fostering panel?
I was extremely happy to join Lika and be a part of an organisation driven by passion and dedication to create positive and well supported foster families.
I have worked with children all my working life. I have a passion to, in whatever way, contribute to creating the best opportunities for children. Added to this, my social work experience has allowed me to further under the importance of the role of foster carers in stabilising and changing the lives of looked after children. Lika’s innovative, systemic based approach to training and support was something that attracted me.
I use systemic ideas in my social work practice and strongly believe in how such ideas can support foster carers in their approaches to the role and also their ability to reflect and understand the world of a looked after child from multiple positions. Being a foster carer is a challenging and unpredictable role. Foster carers require excellent training and support to allow them the best chance of responding to the challenges of the role. From what I’ve seen and know of Lika, I have confidence that Lika will offer this. I hope that Lika’s work can be a beacon for others to follow in years to come!