For children growing up in foster care, the role of their birth parents is an important factor in the success of their long-term placements. Understanding the experiences of parents is therefore essential in order to develop effective social work practice with parents that can also ensure the best possible outcomes for children.
Drawing on detailed and often moving interviews with parents, the book takes a chronological approach, starting with their accounts of family life before their children were taken into care, in particular the impact of drugs, alcohol and domestic violence. It goes on to explore their experiences of court and then how they seek to come to terms with their loss, sustain an identity as a parent and manage a relationship with their children through contact. Parents' views on what they find valuable and helpful in relationships with foster carers and social workers are also discussed. The book then draws on the views of social workers on the opportunities and challenges of supporting parents, while also remaining child-focussed. The authors set out a model of good practice, based on the lessons learnt from the experiences of these parents and social workers.
This book will be essential reading for all child and family social workers, fostering social workers, independent reviewing officers, academics and foster carers.
Gillian Schofield and Emma Ward have drawn strongly on the very personal and often moving experiences of parents whose children have been taken into long-term foster care to produce this well written and insightful book. Quotations from parents poignantly demonstrate the challenges that they have faced. These capture their own understanding and sense of what has happened and the resulting impact on their lives, their children's lives and their relationships with their children and the professionals working with them... There are useful suggestions for ways of improving relationships between both social workers and parents and foster carers and parents respectively. Well written and concise, each chapter ends with a conclusion and a section on "key messages and implications for practice", which is a useful summary of the content. This book is a valuable resource for expanding awareness of the key issues for parents of children in long-term foster care and the positive contributions parents can make to the welfare of their children. It uses the lessons learnt to offer useful models of good practice. This area is overlooked and under-published. -- Foster Care
It's a fantastic book that gives real insight into the lives of the birth parents and may help you to keep a more balanced perspective next time you're struggling with visitations. -- Foster Families
1. Introduction: legal, policy and research context. 2. Parenting before the children went into care. 3. Parents' experience of their children going into care. 4. Parents' experience of their children growing up in foster care. 5. Contact between parents and their children. 6. Parents' relationships with foster carers. 7. Parents' relationships with social workers. 8. Am I still a parent? Managing a threatened identity. 9. Social workers' perspectives on their work with parents. 10. Conclusion: developing social work practice. References. Index.