One of the undeniable things about caring for children during lockdown has been the need to keep them occupied and active, often alongside many other household commitments.
When schools closed completely at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, this meant that many parents and carers encountered a whole new set of challenges, having to provide routine, teaching, play and more to young people who were used to the structure of a school day.
To ensure that that this went smoothly and that our Team Fostering carers had the support they needed during this time, our brilliant Education and Support Service worked hard to move the work they do online, as Steve Elliff, Education and Support Service Manager (Yorkshire and East Midlands) explains; “We deliver most of our support face to face, so lockdown has been a bit of a challenge! In the early stages of lockdown, we tried to support our carers as they adjusted to home schooling, with a host of links, suggestions and ideas for how to keep children busy. For some of our children, engaging in schoolwork at home has gone really well, but for others this has been particularly tricky.“
Lisa Leggatt, Education and Support Service Manager (North East) continues: “The Education and Support Service has continued to provide the support our children and carers expect from us; albeit in a different way.”
“Every week we’ve been posting activities to keep our children and young people of all ages entertained and learning. We found that we didn’t need to keep posting curriculum-based learning activities as schools were doing this, we could just concentrate on the fun stuff. Many of our young people and carers have sent in photographs of what they are getting up to in the lockdown period; their creativity and imagination never ceases to amaze me.”
A large part of the Education and Support Service’s face to face work includes their monthly Life Skills sessions – they include cooking a meal together followed by a short group session on a topic related to independence. As Steve explains: “We contacted some of our young people who attend these sessions and worked with them to come up with an online version of life skills delivered through Microsoft Teams. Friendship is a key part of the life skills group, so the final format included 15 minutes of socialising at the start, a 30 minute life skill session, followed by a 15 minute game at the end.” Topics included health and wellbeing, budgeting, workplace advice and registering with a GP, and they even managed to include some baking in the virtual sessions too!
There’s been the opportunity to have some more targeted support for many of our young people as well. As Lisa recounts, “Some young people need some direct support while being home schooled. We are still ‘meeting’ these young people one to one via video link and thanks to the help from our fabulous IT guru Dave this is going really well. I can share my screen which we can use like a whiteboard you would see in any classroom across the country. So far we have delivered sessions on; science, maths, GCSE poetry, French, RE and history.”
With the help of digital tools, a ton of adaptability and a lot of creativity, the Education and Support Service has met the challenges of providing development and support to the children and young people we work with, head on. The service will continue to provide guidance and advice to the foster carers supporting these young people through this complicated time, and we look forward to being able to combine our diverse programme of face to face activities with our new virtual sessions in future.
To learn more about becoming a foster carer with us, you can contact us by:
- Submitting an online enquiry form here
- Calling us on 0800 292 2003
- Emailing firstname.lastname@example.org