What is the South East Essex Fostering Network?

After the success of the What’s Happening to Me? pilot www.whtm.org.uk  that brought together 50 people who have direct experience of the care system, who either have expert experience or work with children in care, to be part of a steering group for the project where the main aim was to give young people entering the care system a better idea of what was going to happen to their lives.

We had a great response to this Lottery funded project and most of those contributors that took part wanted to continue supporting the South East Essex community to enable more foster carers to maintain longer and more successful placements with the young people they look after.

Currently, the figures for placement breakdown for teenagers in SE Essex is very high and the community that supported the building of WHTM? identified this as an area that would like to be able to work together to find local solutions to a serious problem. They believed this will enable more people to fulfil their potential as foster carers, as well as helping those young people who need solid foster care placements.

The South East Essex Fostering Network aim by continuing this model of learning in a community, with those in care and those people who have been in care to find a way to address the breakdown in teenage foster care placements and that with less failed placements this also will increase retention of foster carers. 50% of teenage foster placements breakdown (Social Care Institute for Excellence).

There is an approximate deficit of 9000 foster carers in the UK (Fostering Network). It is much rarer for those 12+ to be adopted, and therefore, making sure that foster carers are given every opportunity to understand the young people they look after from those who really know seems a sensible way forward. With the establishment of the South East Essex Fostering Community Group, we believe that regularly putting those that care with those that experience that care will allow us to identify a targeted and insightful information source to cut down on the number of teenage foster placements that break down.

Our approach values the experience of children that have grown up in care and specialist foster carers and utilises both to guide the content of our self-help pack, finding ways to understand the importance of attachment, what it looks like when children and young people are in crisis and to explain why attachment is hard to build and why it often breaks down. We aim to improve the resilience of foster carers in South East Essex and by doing so build up the resilience of foster placements that might otherwise be lost. We will build a space for those experienced foster carers to be able to pass on their best practice to those that are earlier on in their fostering journey.

If you would like to join us please email us at contact@understandingattachment.org.uk


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