Here is the second part to an article in December 2012 about Resilience in which we acknowledged how important this issue is for children in foster care.
Why is resilience important
Since resilience is about overcoming difficulties and ‘bouncing back’ it is obvious that, wherever resilience is asked for, something difficult has happened. For foster children this is always the case, and all too often the actual difficulties are traumas resulting from profoundly upsetting and shocking experiences or situations involving neglect, abuse or violence. Resilience helps children, young people and adults to work through issues and come back strong. For some children this is not enough, and therapy is needed. But even in this situation, a resilient child is much more likely to work through the therapy than a child whose resilience factors are very low.
The importance of the Foster Family
The key element of supporting resilience IS WITH THE FOSTER CARER. Research by NEWMAN in 2004 has shown that when children are asked what helped them to overcome the odds, they referred to the people who are/were closest to them. The person who is closest to a foster child is often the foster carer. They are consequently in the best position to influence the resilience factors of a child. As we have seen in the earlier blog these include friendships, education, secure base, positive values and some others.
Foster carers have to work very concisely on these areas which can influence the resilience of a child. If it is left to chance or other people/circumstances it would be an opportunity missed. At UK Fostering every child has to engage in at least one extracurricular activity, education is promoted every step of the way and we make sure our carers have positive attitudes which they pass on to children and young people.
Anyone who would like to find out more just how much resilience counts and can influence our lives is warmly recommended to read ‘Hackney Child’. A book which we have previously applauded and tells the story of a little girl growing up in Hackney, and ending up admitting herself into care. At UK Fostering we give a copy of this book to every foster carer under assessment. It is a powerful and insightful tool to introduce people who apply to foster into a world where resilience and courage can tip the balance between happiness and a cycle of abuse and neglect. See www.hackneychild.co.uk for details.