Training resources

    Katy Burch and Terry Connor evaluate two pieces of work for
    foster carers and residential care staff working with looked-after
    children.

    The Foster Carer’s Handbook (2nd Edition)
    Ann Wheal

    Russell House Publishing4 St George’s HouseThe Business
    ParkUplyme RoadLyme RegisDorset DT7 3LS
    £24.95 (plus £1.50 p&p)This revised version of the
    popular guide to caring for younger looked-after children is, as
    its title suggests, aimed predominantly at foster carers, but it is
    also of use to residential workers, and all professionals who work
    with looked-after children. It contains updated information from
    the first edition, plus some revised or new sections, including
    those relating to carers attending court, what happens when a child
    in care dies, men who foster, and the role of the independent
    fostering agencies.
    It is an invaluable guide to communicating with children who may
    have been abused, or who are separated from their family and
    friends. It provides illustrations of and specific tools for
    assisting foster carers and professionals in listening to and
    talking with young children. It also includes some excellent
    practical advice on dealing with situations involving the child,
    for example by illustrating some of the worries or concerns that a
    young child may have when first arriving in the substitute home,
    and suggesting ways to help them to settle in.
    Perhaps the most significant contribution it makes is the fact that
    it has been written and illustrated in a child-friendly format to
    enable carers and others to read and use it with the children
    themselves as a ‘talking tool’ when they ask about what it means to
    be looked after, or about issues beyond the home itself. For
    example, most sections have at least one activity, such as games,
    checklists, and pictures. Unfortunately, it is let down by the
    occasional factual error, and poor layout in places. In particular,
    it would benefit from a comprehensive indexing system for ease of
    access to the material. For training purposes, the publication is
    available in loose-leaf form for ease of incorporation with
    agencies’ own materials.
    Katy Burch is senior research consultant, School for Social
    Sciences and Law, Oxford Brookes University.

    Managing Residential ChildcareNick Frost and John
    Harris

    Pavilion Publishing (Brighton) Ltd8 St George’s PlaceBrightonEast
    Sussex BN1 4GB£80
    This popular training manual has been comprehensively updated in
    line with new developments in residential child care. It is
    primarily aimed at managers of children’s establishments, but will
    be of interest to other child care staff. It is adaptable for use
    in group training over a period of time, complete with handouts and
    OHPs, or as an individual learning pack.
    The manual is organised in five modules. “Changing environment and
    the new culture of care”, considers the impact of legislation and
    regulation, and in doing so forges a helpful link between the
    development of management theory and the Quality Protects agenda.
    The second module, on managing and planning the process of change,
    is a practical application of management principles in the
    participant’s own managerial context. A statement of purpose is
    used to clarify and strengthen the identity and integrity of the
    home, and a “through the eyes of a child” exercise encourages
    participants to imagine themselves as children being brought to the
    home for the first time.
    People management has its own module and highlights supervision as
    a key issue for managers. As well as dealing with specific aspects
    of the task there is a self-assessment questionnaire on supervisory
    skills which should test people’s frankness. There are also
    sections on handling poor performance and on planning a staff rota,
    which is an unavoidable and sensitive task in any residential
    home.
    The final module involves the application of learning in the work
    environment.
    As homes prepare for the new arrangements under the Care Standards
    Act 2000, the timely updating of this resource will assist staff in
    their efforts to establish and maintain a reliable and safe
    experience for vulnerable children and young people.
    Terry Connor is director of the Catholic Children’s
    Society.

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