The twice-yearly ‘Male Carers Support Group’ took place on Wednesday 15th April 2015 at Plymouth. It was attended by a range of male carers from Somerset, Devon and Cornwall and supported by Ian Robbins (SSW), Nick Harrop (Specialist Support Worker), and Nigel Daly (Clinical Psychologist). Discussions took place spanning a wide range of different fostering related topics which included:
- Family systems – the impact on the family system when new to foster care including comparisons between birth children and foster children, and changes to parenting styles.
- Education – The majority of children placed with carers in the group are teenagers. A lengthy discussion took place about CIC in the education system. This was aided by having carers in the group that are teachers.
- Impact of abuse – the psychological impact of abuse and neglect on children was discussed. Nigel explained the impact on attachment including the ‘four goals of children’s misbehaviour’ framework i.e. what the children are all about, which the carers found fascinating.
- Recording, reporting and accountability – a general discussion about the pros and cons of fostering compared to bringing up birth children took place. Ian and Nigel raised a converse view about the benefits of the regulation and associated paper-work and compliance in terms of keeping the child and yourself as a carer safe and accountable.
- Leaving care – One of the carers gave a detailed and emotional account of the issues the family are currently experiencing owing to a young person that has been in their care for a long time who has decided to disengage with the family and with services, and make his own ‘transition’ out of care. This triggered discussion about the missing persons procedure and the 16+ and leaving care transition process. Nick Harrop gave a short talk about his past experiences regarding transitions to leaving care and the new ‘staying put’ concept. Nigel talked about the psychological transition of teenagers and adolescence including changes in identity, values and their views on the world and family life.
The next Male Carers Group is due to take place in the Autumn. Invites will be sent out to all carers in due course.