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Competence development for carers and educators of children in foster care in the context of trainsition from institutional to community based care
2021. 04. 11
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Curriculum and training materials for careers and foster parents



Guidebook for foster parents education – set of 8 thematic workshops CSPI - Centre for social policy initiatives

Guidebook for foster parents education – set of 8 thematic workshops CSPI - Centre for social policy initiatives


Target group addressed
  • Foster parents

Priority area addressed

-       raising awareness on various aspects of the decision for becoming foster parent

-       clarification of relevant personal attitudes about fostering

-       emotional relief through expressing fears, doubts and other emotions connected with fostering

Country of origin
Croatia

Level
  • Regional

Type of training
  • Training

Brief description

This educational program is created for potential foster parents, those interested in fostering. The idea was to give to all potential foster parents basic knowledge that they should have and to equalize the way in which this knowledge should be presented.

Education consist of 8 thematic workshops:

1.    Social care system for children with reference on fostering

Duration: 150 minutes

2.    Child’s development – creation of close relationships and consequences of separation

Duration:170 minutes

3.    Biological family of foster child

Duration: 170 minutes

4.    Neglect and abuse

Duration: 170 minutes

5.    Foster parents and foster care

Duration: 160 minutes

6.    Upbringing

Duration: 180 minutes

7.    Socializing

Duration: 95 minutes

8.    Ending and new beginning

Duration: 140 minutes

Workshop 1. – Participants presentation and introduction to basic knowledge about fostering as well as their expectations from this education.

Workshops 1.- 4.  – informing foster parents about neglect and abuse and its consequences on child behaviour and emotions. Problems in the process of adaptation to a new family and the importance of maintaining relationship with biological family.

Workshop 5.-7. – raising awareness about influence of foster child on family dynamic of foster family. Questioning of educational values and attitudes and expectation of foster child.

Workshop 8. – evaluation of this education – changes of attitudes and decisions resulting from participating in this education.

Number of participants for each workshop, expect for Socializing: 10-12 potential foster parents. In workshop for Socializing number of participants: 40 potential foster parents, biological children and other family member of potential foster parents, one experienced foster family, one relatively new foster family, one (or more) adult who was a foster child, 2 or3 social workers for Social Welfare Centre and other experts from local community (schools, kindergartens e.c.t)

In the guidebook, there is a detailed description of each workshop: supplies needed, detailed description of each activity in each workshop. Workshops are interactive and consist of 3 types of activities: building climate of trust and security; lecture that workshop leader/facilitator is giving; personal experience (exercises and discussions).

Each trainer is preparing educational material (lecture) according to the needs of that specific group. Trainer should connect personal experience of participants with theoretical thesis and his own experience and according to that create specific topics and content for each group of potential foster parents.

It was planned that education last 8 weeks – every week one workshop. It is recommended that 2 trainers participate in leading workshops.

Main achievements

As a pilot project, this model of education was implemented in 2 Social Welfare Centres in Croatia, on 20 potential foster parents and foster parents that didn’t have any training yet.

Trainers were social workers, psychologists or defectologist, employed in Social Welfare Centres, that participated in the project “Education of experts, professionals and foster parents in the field of fostering”. But the main idea is that every Social Welfare Centre that have potential foster parents organize this kind of education and that trainers should use Guidebook created for this purpose even if they did not participate in project mentioned above. Trainers should be flexible, have a knowledge and experience in the field of fostering, be open and honest in contact with foster parents and have some experience in group work.

Social Welfare Centres that started with this education in 2005., continue to implement it with every new group of potential foster parents and others Social Welfare Centre call a trainers from this Centres to implement this training (this usually don’t work well because of the problems connected to financing).

Some additional activities arised from this education, such as  involving experienced foster parents to share their knowledge and experience with others – Social Welfare Centres organize this from time to time (once or twice times a year).

 

Effectiveness

The goal of the project was to offer systematic, creative and motivating training for acquiring, transferring and spreading new skills and competencies in an attempt to shift paradigms connected with accommodation, upbringing and development of a child outside its own family. Specific goals of training of potential foster carers are:

1.    Acquiring new skills related to children in foster care

2.    A desired upbringing and attitude towards fostered children

3.    Increasing awareness of various aspects of deciding on foster care

4.    Highlighting certain personal views of potential foster carers towards foster care

5.    Providing an opportunity to potential foster carers for emotional relief – dealing with potential fears and doubts

The topics of the workshops were selected based on working with expert staff from the Social Welfare Centres, foster carers and experts in this field as well as having a strong theoretical foundation. The presenters prepared with the aid of the Handbook meant for experts working with foster carers and every workshop contained also contained an interactive part – individual and paired exercises and discussion. The recommendation was to have the handout materials adapted to specific needs and expectations of each group – these were gathered at the first workshop.

Even though the evaluation of the pilot project demonstrated its usefulness, the recommendation to develop a wholesome and broad evaluation after each workshop in all Social Welfare Centres across Croatia was not implemented. This training program is meant for meeting needs of Social Welfare Centres and does not intend to gather data across Croatia regarding its effectiveness, but every Centre does the evaluations itself and does not make the relevant information public or available. Despite this, based on the achieved success of the Pilot project, we are of the opinion that it should be included as an example of good practise.

Evaluation


The evaluation of the pilot project was undertaken on participants in two groups included in the evaluation in a way that the workshop presenters would prepare a report for the project manager after every workshop. All reports are contained within the Handbook.

The participants would also fill in evaluation questionnaires contained within the Handbook. The evaluation of the project showed that the participants are very happy with the training, the content and the working method. The evaluation of the entire process showed personal gains and advancement on behalf of the participants and a wish to continue these types of meetings from time to time.

The training also included those foster carers who did not undergo the initial training and they also showed satisfaction with the offered content and usefulness of the training. The evaluation contains recommendations of presenters to tailor certain exercises to the needs and specifics of the group as well as written material, which would be handed to participants to take home and use upon completion of the training.

Related documentation

1.    Foster care: care for children outside their family - Manual for education of foster parents. CSPI, Zagreb, 2006. (Croatian)

2.    Foster care: care for children outside their family - Manual for education of professionals. CSPI, Zagreb, 2005. (Croatian)

They are not available online but in the Library of the Faculty of Philosophy

Contact / Information

Name: Ivana Ivša

Position: social worker in team for fostering

E-Mail address: iivsa@mspm.hr

Address (work): Social Welfare Centre, Ivana Meštorvića 21, 44000 Sisak

Country: Croatia

Telephone: 385 – 44- 515-723

Key words
carer, foster family, training
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