How could one-page profiles support foster carers?

25 February 2015 | By Helen Sanderson

Blog by Ross Young

My Mum and Dad have been foster carers for over three years now, and having recently heard that they have invited a new child into their home, I have been thinking a lot about how one-page profiles could support my family. Looking back at their last placement with a young boy called Mark*, which unfortunately broke down just before Christmas last year, I think a lot of the problems we had were due to the fact that Mark was very unsettled and had an awful lot of people trying to work out what was important for him, without necessarily considering what was important to him. Initially, my Mum and Dad only looked after Mark on a part time basis, usually three days a week, which meant he went back home to stay with his family for the rest of the week.

 

One of the first things that I did when I started working for Community Circles, was to develop my own one-page profile. I had never heard of a one-page profile but after being taken through the process, I immediately thought about how I had never even considered what people appreciated about Mark, what was important to him, or how best to support him. My Mum and Dad were told that Mark had ADHD and had a history of being violent and abusive towards teachers and support workers. We were told all about his ‘difficult and challenging behaviours’, yet were given very little insight into his more affable side; a side that showed us a cheeky but affectionate little lad who loved playing with anyone and everyone. Although a one-page profile wouldn’t solve all of the challenges people face as foster carers, I certainly feel that by understanding what is important to someone and how best to support them should be an integral part of the process of supporting children. I’m also not saying that I think the placement would have worked out for Mark if he had had a one-page profile, but it would have given us an opportunity as a family to look for different ways to support Mark, and involving him much more in the process.

 

It led me to have a quick chat with my Mum about the documents they received when their new placement started at the start of this month. Mum said they were given three documents. The first is a placement Risk Assessment which contains a Risk Management Plan, documenting what the concerns/risks of the placement are, as well as the degree of risk, what increases the risk, and what should be done to reduce the risk to the individual in care. The second document is a Pathway to Accommodation into Local Authority Care (PALAC), including sections such as personal information about the child in care, a summary of previous social work intervention, an outline of why a family, friend or connected person is unsuitable in this case, details of the purpose and duration of the placement, details of the social worker and general information regarding the fee structure of foster care. The final document is a police form, containing information relevant to the family.

 

Whilst I am not in a position to question the necessity of these documents, I am in a position to wonder why the local authority do not provide any other information about the individual who is in care. It means that my parents have to welcome a child into their home without having the slightest idea about what is important to that person, or how best to support them in their own opinion. Considering the short amount of time it takes to complete a one-page profile, and seeing the simple yet powerful impact they can have on the support that a person receives; I think a one-page profile should and quite easily could, become an essential document given to foster carers, in order to ensure that the child in their care can receive the best possible support.

 

*name has been changed for privacy reasons

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