Jamal

Report
Working as a team:
Carers' role in
supporting restoration
Stefan Jamal
Barnardos Temporary Family Care
(TFC) Caseworker
OVERVIEW
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Barnardos Practice Framework
The Study
Findings
Practice Implications
Questions
BARNARDOS PRACTICE
FRAMEWORK
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Barnardos’ Temporary Family Care (TFC) is short-term, crisis care.
Historically a restoration focus.
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Barnardos believes a positive relationship between birth families and carers
is best practice in this context;
- Stability for children
- Security for families – maintaining engagement
- Support restoration
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Avenues for this relationship;
- Carer home as contact venue
- Carer supervise contact
- Carer transport children to contact
- Direct communication with birth families
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30 years practice history with positive practice outcomes
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Evidence informed practice
• Inclusive foster caring promotes better outcomes for
children (Holman, 1975). Later supported by a study
by Sally Palmer (1996) in Canada which found links
between inclusive practice and placement stability.
• “carers’ involvement in contact may be a central part
of plans to support reunification with birth families”
(Sen & McCormack, 2011)
• “problems arise when infants need to leave their carer
and travel to family contact without regard for their
attachments or routines” (Humphreys & Kiraly, 2010)
We believe this is true… but found it was
happening less…
RESEARCH CONTEXT
• Anecdotal trends cited by program managers:
- Reduced use of carer home
- Increased use of contact workers
• International trends for carer involvement:
- Reduced use of carers’ homes (Sen &
McCormack, 2011)
- Increase in the “Contact Centre” model
(Triseliotis, 2010)
- Contact used for assessment (Triseliotis, 2010)
So we decided to figure out what was
happening, and why.
THE STUDY
Three research questions:
1. What is current contact practice in Barnardos
TFCs regarding the involvement of carers in
contact?
2. What are the factors influencing the choices made
about carers involvement in contact?
3. Can greater carer involvement in contact be
achieved? If so, how?
SCOPE & METHOD
• Research initially intended for internal review
• Scope limited by resource availability - time limited
• Research Method:
- Across four NSW Temporary Family Care (TFC)
programs
- Administrative Data from case notes – LACES &
MyStory
- Interviews with senior members of staff
FINDINGS
• This presentation is a summary of
key/relevant findings
• Only key message of each graph
• Email list if you’d like full research paper
RESEARCH QUESTION 1
What is current contact practice
in Barnardos TFCs regarding
the involvement of carers in
contact?
(Data from administrative files)
VENUE FOR CONTACT
CARERS SUPERVISING
CONTACT
CARERS TRANSPORTING TO
AND FROM CONTACT
WHEN DID BIRTH FAMILIES
MEET THE CARER?
• Birth families met the carer in 23 out of 24
cases
METHOD OF
COMMUNICATION BETWEEN
BIRTH FAMILY AND CARER
• 19 out of 24 at “handover” before and
after contact
• 4 cases telephone communication
• 3 cases only through a Barnardos
caseworker
• (2 cases no adequate data)
RESEARCH QUESTION 2
What are the factors influencing
the choices made about carers’
involvement in contact?
(Data from interviews)
COMPETING PRESSURES
• All interviewees acknowledged and
understood the importance of involving
carers, however cited competing pressures
as a road block.
“Just because it’s not happening at the
moment, it’s not that we are against it or
we’re not aware of the policy... I guess it’s
just that on the ground when you’re working,
it can be quite difficult to implement.”
(Interviewee B)
FEAR OF “RISK”
• Risk of the “unknown”:
“A parent is an unknown risk, we don’t know them
well enough, or enough about their history to
determine whether they would be suitable to have
contact in a carer’s home” (Interviewee B)
• Risk around issues of Mental Health and Drug
and Alcohol use
• In line with growing concerns about “risk” in social
work practice (Webb, 2006)
THE CARE PLAN
• All interviewees identified a care plan for
restoration as a reason to involve the
carer in contact
• Interviewees identified a shift towards
more involuntary placements and less
restorations
CARER SKILLS
• Concern about “Carer Professionalism”
- Carers becoming “friends” with birth
families
- Inability to/lack of confidence in setting
boundaries
OFFICE DESIGN/STRUCTURE
• One interviewee identified constraints of
the office building, where carer and birth
families enter from different parts of
building
• Researcher observations of other facilities
as more appropriate
So then, what is the carer’s role in
supporting birth families and supporting
restorations?
PRACTICE IMPLICATIONS
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Policy acknowledgement of the pressure on workers (risk in practice,
protecting carers)
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Work within risk context to create safe spaces for carer to engage with birth
family
- Meetings as early as practically possible
- Caseworker support in meeting and ongoing
- Organic, safe spaces
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Maintaining the critical carer roles of transport and handover throughout
placement
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Keep high level roles (supervision and contact in home) for restoration work
• Emphasising and explaining the importance
of these roles in carer training
• Worker training toward greater understanding
of importance of carer involvement
• Work with TFC teams about where we could
be better advocates for greater carer
involvement
A thought to take away…
Wider contextual shifts and trends can slip
so easily into our practice. It is important to
continually reflect on whether our practice
aligns with agency values.
REFERENCES
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Holman R (1975) The place of fostering in social work British Journal of
Social Work 5(1): 3–29.
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Humphreys C & Kiraly M (2010) High-frequency family contact: a road to
nowhere for infants Child and Family Social Work
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Palmer, S E (1996) Placement stability and inclusive practice in foster care:
An empirical study Children and Youth Services Review 18(7): 589–601.
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Sen R and McCormack J (2011) Foster Carers' Involvement in contact:
Other professionals views Practice: social Work in Action 23(5): 279- 292.
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Triseliotis J H (2010) Contact between looked after children and their
parents: A level playing field Adoption and Fostering 14(3): 59-64.
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Webb S A (2006) Social Work in a Risk Society. Basingstoke: Palgrave
MacMillan.
QUESTIONS?

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