Promoting resilience in fostered children and young people

Guide 6

By Lisa Bostock

Published September 2004


Why childcare professionals matter

This guide looks at how childcare professionals can make a difference to young people's experiences of foster care.

Professionals play an important role by supporting caring relationships, ensuring that school is a positive experience, and promoting the self-esteem of children and young people in the foster care system.

This guide unpacks the concept of resilience and provides helpful hints for practice as well as access to further resources.

It is aimed at the qualifying and newly qualified childcare professional and outlines why they matter in the life of a foster child.

Positive relationships, at any age in the life span, can help improve poor self-image. People who take an interest, who listen, who care and love people, make others feel better. They bolster self-esteem.

Quotes from young people, foster carers or practitioners

"It's just so rewarding, so rewarding. it's a job that's really satisfying." Foster carer. (1)

Children who are not loved at home may still develop feelings of self-worth if a relative takes an interest, a teacher appears concerned and caring, or if a social worker responds with kindness and consistency.

How childcare professionals can make a difference

Research shows that focusing on the strengths of young people is crucial to future outcomes. This means focusing on 'resilience factors', or things that help children and young people cope with adversity.

The sorts of things that buffer children and young people from unfavourable circumstances include access to a caring relationship with an adult such as a foster carer. This may also mean children having contact with their birth families and every effort should be made to get this right.

Quotes from young people, foster carers or practitioners

"Care has brought me to realise I am a person in my own right, but I know I have been very lucky - [I have a] good social worker, good residential worker and good foster parent." 16-year-old girl. (2)

The experience that foster children and young people have at school also helps them to overcome difficulties and every effort should be made to ensure that this experience is positive, by encouraging them to take part in school activities they enjoy, to help build their self-esteem.

Quotes from young people, foster carers or practitioners

"My foster carer helped me a lot. she [has] made me more confident in my school work." 11-year-old girl. (3)

A sense of direction is very important to young people in troubled circumstances because it can provide stability and control. This means working with young people on their goals and how to reach them and helping them to build a picture of what the future may hold.

A second way of helping young people feel more in control is involving them in forums that promote the participation of young people in the development of services for looked-after children.

Practice example

Cambridge has a 'Just us' group of looked-after children who meet monthly across three localities in the county. The young people in this group were consulted during the Best Value review of the authority and also contribute ideas on how to train staff to work sensitively with looked-after children. (4)

Fostering success

Fostering success is about recognising and supporting the strengths of children and their families. It is about making sure that that fostered children and young people have access to positive relationships and feel happy at school and it is about working with them to choose outcomes that reflect their own aspirations and making every effort to enable them to achieve these aspirations.


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