What Did Children In Foster Care Do During Lockdown?
Young people need opportunities to engage with others, and children in foster care are no different.
If sharing an experience is therapeutic; and building connections decreases isolation, how do we make sure these practices take place in a COVID-19 society where remote working and virtual socialising is the norm, and physical distance is widely encouraged?
Luckily at Anchor, we have our imaginative Children and Young Person Support Worker Norma on hand. Alongside our foster carers and social work teams, Norma has been brilliant at not only supporting children's personal development but also in providing fun, entertainment opportunities for them during the lockdown.
We are so glad for Norma.
Since the first lockdown (and before) Norma has been on hand to create magical memories for children in foster care and their foster siblings through the children's forum. October's meeting this year included an exploratory ramble through Shorne Woods Country Park, Kent, a sensory treat, and a playground for adventurers.
Beginning at the arboretum (living tree museum) and fishing lakes, our families split up to follow orange, red, purple, green, brown, and blue routes around the park. They soon discovered ponds and wetlands home to great crested newts, dragonflies, and damselflies. Some were lucky enough to glimpse fish hiding behind hazy pondweed and flowers.
The trek could have easily ended there but Norma provided navigation tips that led our families to even more exciting viewpoints. Why? As an organisation, we understand that many of our young people have never experienced healthy wild abandon or a safe place to explore nature or their emotions. Sadly, many children in foster care have experienced neglect instead – being left to their own devices on devices or being muted with chocolates and sweets 24 hours a day.
Wandering through the Randall Woodland walks and glades our families (birth children and children in foster care) could not be further from a neglectful scene. Surrounded by Pine, Cedar, and Maple trees, our families hunted for fallen chestnuts, conkers, butterflies and even Daubenton bats. The bats only eat small flies and midges though, so our families were safe - phew!
There were some surprises on the trip that even brave Norma could not foresee.
As squirrels dashed past the feet of our families to find the many acorns on the leafy ground, ready for winter storage, a hidden gem also lay in wait for them.
To the delight of our foster carers, birth children and children in foster care there stood a chanterelle of incredible proportions, almost mythical. What was this strawberry coloured delight that they had encountered? – why a perfect red toadstool, of course. Could it have been the throne of the Faerie queen or king of the ancient woodland they had been strolling through? Had it been planted there by the dragon of the woods, many years ago? Who knows. The main thing is our children in foster care had had an adventure.
They had slipped past moss on tree bark; they had studied cracks within dead fallen trees for beetles and insects. They had explored the many giant veteran trees, each providing places for our children to explore and play in.
Every step in the woods had activated a new sense for our children. Birds singing overhead, the thrilling anticipation of spying a magnificent green spotted woodpecker. A heart-pounding race to the Cardiac Steps. The smooth feel of the Faerie Ring seat carvings, a perfect fantasy element set off by the legendary Big Dragon lurking in the woods.
It was not a real dragon of course, but it did allow our foster families to take part in a challenge to 'name the dragon and count its bony backbone from head to tail'.
But wait, there was another surprise.
No adventure is complete without customary slip-sliding and jumping in muddy puddles – our youngsters did so in abundance!
Although Covid-19 restrictions meant some activities were no longer safe for young people and children in foster care to enjoy, in all, our young people loved their autumn activity.
And us – yes we met our goal which was to bring our young people together in a safe way to give them a release, enjoyment, fulfilment and richness that every child should have and continue to get in the present COVID-19 environment and beyond. The children of foster parents and the children in foster care also got the opportunity to connect, speak and be heard all while experiencing a delightful adventure fit for the best adventurer or fairy tale book ever.
Why foster? Becoming a foster parent will give you a unique opportunity to play a role in supporting young people, and to enjoy and experience magical moments too.
Would you like to be a part of our amazing family of foster carers, providing safety, stability and hope for young people who need it?
If you have questions about fostering, please join our 'Why Foster’ Q&A webinar where you can really get to the nitty-gritty and ask all the questions you need to ask about becoming a foster carer and what that might look for you, how it would fit your existing family and how you might expect things to shape up for you.
To join, just click the link https://bit.ly/why_foster
and then hit the register button to fill out a very short form booking your place on the event. It takes less than two minutes.
Our forum gave children in foster care an opportunity to be free and to experience freedom safely albeit through play. Why foster? - why not? Give a young person that opportunity to just be.