Lucy November is the creator of Fostering Hope, an online resource for foster carers and professionals that promotes excellence in parent-and-child foster care, recognising this as a specialised role needing additional training, skills and support. We caught up with Lucy to find out more about the website and what is available.
Tell us a bit about your experience and your connection to fostering?
In 2006, I got a job as a specialist teenage pregnancy midwife. We were a small team, managing our own caseload, and I really enjoyed getting to know the young women and their families. They were facing some really challenging situations. As much as I loved the job, I often felt frustrated having to discharge the mothers from our care at around 6 weeks postnatally, just when they needed most support. I had met several girls in foster care with their babies, and decided to shift my focus, and become a parent-and-child foster carer. I fostered from 2012 until 2016 when one of my mums 'stayed put' for 3 years with her daughter.
What has inspired you to launch the Fostering Hope website?
I was disappointed when I registered as a parent-and-child foster carer. There was very little additional training for this specialised role. I applied to the Sir Halley Stewart Trust to do some research into the experiences of other PAC foster carers, parents who had been in foster care with a child, and social workers. I was granted the funding and spent a year travelling round the country running focus groups and interviews. I found that there was a lack of training around issues that were to do with health and wellbeing, and some of the challenges that parents face. I decided to produce a resource which was accessible to everyone, to keep people updated and informed, so www.fosteringhope.co.uk was launched!
What need do you want to address within the fostering community with Fostering Hope?
I'd really like to nurture a sense of group identity for the parent-and-child foster carers out there, and their supervising social workers. For them to have a place to go online where their particular challenges and issues are understood, and where people can meet up virtually and support each other. I'd also love it to be a work in progress - where anyone is welcome to contribute content, a vlog, a blog. I'm also keen for supervising social workers to use the website in their supervision, as there are lots of ideas for reflection and group discussion in the website's Learning Zone. I'm also now offering face-to-face training for foster carers and their supervising social workers to attend together.
What have been some of the positive outcomes since launching the website?
It’s still early days. I'm hoping to start to gather stories and examples of how the website and closed Facebook group have filled that knowledge gap, been the support that has been lacking, or provoked a change of practice as teams sit down and thrash out how they want their parent-and-child offer to look.
What change would you like to see in the fostering system?
I'd love to see parents in the care system being consistently treated with care and respect; having their own unique strengths recognised and developed, and their needs met through timely interventions and therapies; to see stronger links with community and faith groups which help parents to develop strong healthy relationships, and for the fostering system to be a positive opportunity for change, whatever the outcome.