The Workforce

How to be a relational foster carer

Looking for ways to be more relational as a foster carer? Here you will find some information on how to create relational foster care.

Being relational is an on-going process of building a person's capacity, supporting another person in their growth and well-being, to nurture 'well' relationships and effect change in relationships when needed. A relational approach is strongly advocated and endorsed by the Staying Put Scotland guidance (Scottish Government 2013). The Relational Model is an approach. It provides a framework and a set of values to inform interactions and decision making processes whilst still allowing and encouraging creativity and innovation by staff, foster carers, children and young people.

Young people with care experience may exhibit some challenging behaviour due to the experiences they have faced – this can be challenging and frustrating to deal with as a foster carer. How we perceive and interpret these behaviours influence how we react to them. Some young people may struggle with things like:

  • Trust – being distrusting of adults and professionals.
  • May struggle to concentrate & focus – which can make school difficult.
  • May isolate themselves – which can lead to issues with socialising.
  • May struggle to make or maintain relationships with peers – this can lead to further isolation.

A relational approach to deal with some of these challenges may help.

Here is a quick overview of the relational model:

Developing relationships:

  • Building Relationships - Developing safety, security and trust through protection, connection, understanding and care
  • Supporting Inclusion - Facilitating access to learning, ensuring social inclusion and developing individual skills
  • Setting Boundaries - Reaching agreements and building a shared understanding of expectations.
  • Establishing clear processes for resolving difficulties.

Responding and calming:

  • Keeping Calm - Using everyday interactions to maintain relationships and agreements and promote a calm and supportive learning environment
  • Regulating Emotions - Using key relational skills to regulate strong emotions and calm behaviour
  • Managing Crisis - Having clear plans to ensure safety and support.

Repairing and restoring:

  • Resolving Conflict - Everyday restorative interactions to resolve minor conflict and disagreements and create a shared understanding.
  • Repairing Harm - Restorative encounters to discuss the breaking of agreements, the impact consequences) on others and to restore relationships.
  • Supporting Change: What additional support / action is needed?

Most importantly is to ask what the young person needs and how you can best support them. It is also important to have open and honest conversations about your boundaries and limitations with the young people you care. It can create security and reassurance as young people know what to expect from you as a foster carer but most importantly as another human being.

Here you can find more information on a relational approach to foster care.

Here you can find more information and advice relating to foster care.

You can read more on the relational approach here.

Staf hold regular 'A brew and a blether' groups for carers to come together to meet up with other carers and hear how things are going for them, talk about the issues that you are facing as well as being a supportive force for carers like you. To find out more visit - Here

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