SELECTED ARTICLE
Author
Joe Webb 
Article Title
Fostering contact with birth families 
Posted Date
3/21/2010 

Contact is a major issue for foster children who often have confused feelings about their family and the reasons they are in care. Foster children usually want contact even if it is stressful. It is one of foster carers main role to support contact which might be directed by a court or agreed between the childs social worker and the parents but contact often has problems for the foster child and the foster carers.

Foster children often feel anxious before contact which effects their behaviour and can often be unsettled on their return from contact which can take some time to stabilise. Foster children have a legal right to have contact with their birth family and most children want to keep in contact and have it increased. Even though they might find it distressing at times, contact often helps children to feel valued, respected and appreciated. Foster children have direct contact by meeting with their birth family members and/or significant others, and includes phone calls, texting and emails.

To be as successful as possible, contact arrangements should take into account any risks to the foster child including the reasons the child has been placed in care, particularly if it is because of abuse as contact can allow abuse to continue. If there is a known risk of contact abuse, contact is supervised and any direct contact foster children receive such as letters and cards are monitored. Direct, and even sometimes indirect, contact can allow abuse to continue. Sometimes there is not enough evidence or reason to stop contact and children who had been abused and who have unsupervised contact with family members can be at risk of re abuse which harms the foster child and can cause the foster placement to breakdown.

Foster children also have indirect contact by letters and cards from parents and other members of the birth family which is usually through the foster carer or childs social worker. Contact is usually increased during a foster child’s placement if the placement is stable, there is good communication and improved relationships. Foster children often want more contact with their mothers and fathers and other family members, such as grandmothers and siblings, even if foster children are settled in their foster placement and do not want to return home.

Parents often have confused feelings. Many birth parents want to have contact but also find the experience stressful because they often feel powerless in their relationship with social services and frustrated due to the requirement for formal arrangements such as set times, venues, length of visits and if the contact is supervised. Although there can be risk and disruption for foster children, all the evidence available finds that contact is generally beneficial for foster children and should be promoted, unless it is not in the child's best interests. Applying to foster children it is of paramount importance to choose the right fostering agency, there are over seven hundred in the UK.

Simply Fostering, the UK national foster carer recruitment website provides help by answering questions and identifying the most suitable local fostering agencies with vacancies. Simply Fostering help people interested in becoming foster carers to act on the Government's advice to 'contact more than one Fostering Agency if you are interested in a fostering career'.

References
Simply Fostering help people interested in becoming foster carers. For comprehensive and easy to understand information, help and advice, contact Annette or Joe at http://www.SimplyFostering.co.uk 
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