Social pedagogy can bring about immediate benefits for fostered children and young people, their foster carers, and the other professionals in the team around them, The Fostering Network’s four year Head, Heart, Hands programme has found.
The innovative programme, which involved working closely with seven local authorities and independent fostering providers to explore the impact of introducing social pedagogy into UK foster care, has shown that social pedagogy can help fostered children and young people have a positive experience of family life, with deeper, more trusting relationships.
The programme also showed how social pedagogy can provide an ethical and theoretical framework which enhances and builds on existing fostering practice, as well as how it can support foster carers to navigate their way through the unique demands of their vital role – helping them find an effective balance between the professional and the personal. It provides tools and approaches that help foster carers understand their needs and the needs of the young people in their care, enabling them to support and prioritise wellbeing across the whole fostering household.
Melissa Green, director of operations at The Fostering Network, said: ‘Head, Heart, Hands has been an incredibly ambitious programme which has shown us how social pedagogy can bring important benefits to the practice of foster carers and social care staff. Foster carers we have worked with through the programme have reported feeling better able to understand the needs of the children and young people they are caring for, resulting in the whole fostering family feeling more confident, empowered and valued.
‘We believe that social pedagogy provides a platform for fostering services to take a ‘people above process’ approach to supporting looked after children, with relationships and values being placed at the heart of decision making.
‘To change the whole culture of a service takes significant time and resources, but Head, Heart, Hands has shown the positive impact that social pedagogy can have on individual fostering households over a short timescale.’