Practitioners’ Messages

● Children who have been fostered for a long time have usually built up a positive relationship with their carers. While some placement moves cannot be avoided, think about the emotional damage to the child that could result from the relationship being disrupted.

● If a child returns home, ask yourself what support they and their family will need and for how long. Should you consider maintaining contact between the child and their foster carer? Research shows that effective support for the family following return home is rare think about how you can offer better support.

● The problems behind a child’s difficulties almost always begin before the child becomes looked after. So when you are considering returning children home ask yourself whether the risk factors that caused the child to become looked after have improved. Discuss this with the professional network. Is the family able to work towards reunification, or alternatively, accept permanent alternative care?

● Remember that the parents and other adults in the family must be able to recognise and accept the need for change, and to work towards achieving it. If they cannot they will need to accept that their child is cared for by others.

● All fostered children from ethnic minority backgrounds, wherever they are placed, need extra support to appreciate their cultural heritage and to combat racism and discrimination.

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