Our Promoting Stability Team aims to strengthen stability within our foster families through crisis intervention and planned, time-limited, therapeutic support. We encourage a multi-agency approach, providing specialised support at the right time.
The team may be considered at the point of matching, to support a foster family as they adjust to living together, to try to prevent any struggles from the beginning.
As a result, the progress and stability of our foster families is being monitored by regular review meetings, so there is the opportunity to respond to difficulties and concerns as they arise.
The team provides 1:1 interventions via direct work with children and foster carers. Trauma-informed practice is our foundation, including dyadic developmental practice, BUSS model and theraplay approaches.
The team also provides consultations for targeted support to social workers as well as a wide network of professionals and organisations.
Thresholds for intervention are considered and determined on an individual basis. The focus of the support is on building the relationship between the carer and child or young person for a lasting relationship that heals developmental trauma.
We always take into account the behaviour, the way it’s interpreted, and the relationship within which this interpretation takes place.
The key is responding to the behaviour in an appropriate way rather than changing the behaviour, to strengthen stability.
The benefit of this approach is the development of stable, nurturing, and responsive care of the child or young person in relation to their attachment needs.
The team also offers support to Devon children living in independent fostering agencies and liaises with the Edge of Care Service when they are supporting children and young people in foster families to return to live with their families.
Being trauma-informed is at the heart of the Promoting Stability Team ethos.
Exposure to trauma during childhood affects brain development. People who have experienced trauma, therefore, respond differently to threat.
Developmental trauma impacts on an individual’s understanding of relationships and can cause fear and anxiety even when they are no longer in the care of a negative caregiver.
By being aware, informed, sensitive and responsive to trauma, we increase our chances of helping children and young people feel safe, develop trust, and invest in relationships and support services.
Trauma-informed practice is not designed to treat the results of trauma – this is the purpose of trauma-specific services.
Supporting other parts of the care system to become increasingly aware of the importance of a trauma-informed practice is part of the Promoting Stability Team offer, within individual discussions, meetings and training to carers and social work teams.
We provide psycho-educational learning of developmental trauma to foster carers and other professionals, whilst supporting them with the application of a relational approach to parenting.
Referrals are made by supervising social workers or the child’s social worker. There is a referral meeting, followed by regular review meetings to measure if the identified needs have been met and if additional support is required.
Sessions focus on support to foster carers in the absence of the child or young person, allowing space to build a relationship between carer and family practitioner which supports honesty, vulnerability, and reflective thinking.
We apply dyadic developmental practice and support carers to adapt their parenting to the needs of the child or young person.
We also offer support group sessions and bite-size training sessions on therapeutic parenting. We provide psycho-educational learning and reflection pre and post-panel for new carers to explain therapeutic parenting, the effects of trauma on brain development and how this can impact on carers.
We provide trauma-informed practice training for foster carers and professionals, as well as a six-week Foundations for Attachment group, which is complemented by an 18-week Nurturing Attachments Group, provided by our children in care CAMHS colleagues.
This role within the team receives clinical supervision from the clinical psychologist in the children in care CAMHS team.
We work closely with the wider team around the child, offering some support directly to schools to further their knowledge of trauma and responding using a relational approach to the need of the child or young person.
The role of the understanding is to provide 1:1 support to children and young people alongside their carers, to enable them to develop their emotional awareness and literacy, and begin to build trust and confidence in being open and sharing who they are within an emotionally safe environment.
Referrals are made by the child’s social worker or supervising social worker and are followed by a referral meeting.
Reviews of support are held frequently to assess how the support work is aiding the young person and to identify if there are any further support needs. Once the support is completed a planned ending is organised with the child.
Sessions offer children and young people the support and opportunity to develop their own emotional awareness. This includes supporting a young person to recognise and name emotions, this can be undertaken using specific resources or activity based and through play.
Family practitioners promote connections with young people and enable them to begin to express verbally their feelings and name them.
Practitioners support understanding and the creation of emotional meaning and narratives for children and young people reflecting on how this links with communication such as behaviour.
There is support to build under-developed sensory-motor systems to help regulation and development. Linking the body and emotions, providing children with early physical experiences that have been missed when they would have grown into their bodies, which would give them more time for regulation and relationships. The carers are the agents for change within the relationship healing.
We provide transition support; this may be by offering the young person transition booklets, supporting them to express their needs when moving to a new foster family or exploring difficult emotions when transitioning between the foster family and school.
This role supports the child’s life journey and can contribute to the child building memories and building a narrative through storytelling.
In addition, family practitioners offer workshops within foster carer support groups focusing on support to build connections, understanding of play, sensory regulation and linking body and emotions.
Moves and narrative support
Within the Promoting Stability Team, we recognise the importance of a thorough, planned move and the vital need for a clear and coherent narrative to support a child’s understanding of their journey and life experiences.
Children in care can experience many moves in their life and we feel that there is a key role in supporting an adult-led, relational approach, to ensure a child can understand the reason they are moving, without any additional impact of shame, reinforcement to their negative image of self, and feelings of rejection.
We provide support to foster carers and the wider professional network in thinking about how best to plan a move that is child focussed, balancing the varying timescales that may need to be in place, in order to avoid an immediate breakdown as this can be painful for all and does not meet a child’s emotional needs.
We can also provide support in thinking about storybooks and social stories to further help a child have a developed understanding of what is or has happened to them within the period, before and after a move.
We encourage an ongoing relationship for the child and the foster family they are leaving, ensuring the child experiences a ‘good ending’ with support and special memories.
We can provide support if needed to the new foster family to help carers within that transitional period, specifically around understanding the child’s emotional needs and help in how to respond to this, including thoughts around routines, attachment and therapeutic parenting.
PST Fostering provide a Fostering Support Duty Line to support carers as well as professionals.