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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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Quality foster care for a happy childhood

Quality foster care for a happy childhood


Target group addressed
  • Foster parents
  • Social workers

Priority area addressed

- Providing necessary skills and competencies to current and potential foster carers in their work with children with developmental difficulties and ones with behavioural problems

- Promotion of child foster care

-Improving the quality of care for children in foster

Country of origin
Croatia

Level
  • Regional

Type of training
  • Training

Brief description

The program lasted 3 years (2010-2013) and was financed by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare. It was run across two counties and in partnership with 3 Social Welfare Centres.

The program consisted of 3 types of activities:

1.    Promotional activities aimed at raising public awareness regarding the needs of children without appropriate parental care

2.    Educational activities aimed at strengthening skills and competencies of current and potential foster carers.

3.    Activities aimed at providing support for foster carers; individual counselling; supervision of Social Welfare Centre staff working in foster care, informal group gatherings of foster families and development of an Individual Care Plan for the child.

 

1.    Promotional activities: Local community expert round table discussions on topic of advancement of welfare for children without appropriate parental care; Public forum discussions with the aim of promoting foster care for children. Round table discussion presentations were given by staff working in the system of social welfare (Social Welfare Centres and Children’s Homes) as well as university professors. Public forums included presentations from foster care team members from the Social Welfare Centres.

2.    Educational activities for current and potential foster carers:

-       Educational workshops for foster carers caring for children on the following topics: Psychosocial development of children, special needs of children in foster care, relationship and influence of biological family, neglect and abuse of children, upbringing methods, fostering healthy and functional families, development of an individual care plan for the child.  

-       Educational activities for foster carers who care for children with mental or physical disabilities, apart from general topics, it also covered the following topics: specifics about children with physical or mental disabilities. Specifics on development through puberty of children with physical or mental disabilities. Adopting practical skills. Fostering self-respect in children. Development of socialising skills in children, Sexuality and sex education for children with physical or mental disabilities.

-       Educational workshops aimed at foster carers who care for children with behavioural problems, apart from the general topics also cover: Problems in behaviour, Choice of upbringing and discipline methods.

3.    Activities aimed at providing support to foster carers – through directly supporting foster carers and support for expert staff from Social Welfare Centres who work with foster carers.  

 

Educational workshops lasted 4 hours each. There were 10 – 15 participants in attendance on average. Supervision of Social Welfare Centre staff was held every 4 months. Informal gatherings of foster families were organised once a year at a group excursion for all those participating at workshops during that year. As part of the project, a Handbook was developed – Individual Care Plan for a fostered child in a foster family, which is also applicable for children in a Home. 

Main achievements

Educators/trainers did not undergo special training. The only prerequisite was to have an appropriate university degree (psychology, social work, speech therapy), group work experience and experience with delivering training for foster carers and parents. Depending on the area of expertise, different experts delivered different training. Participants of training workshops can at any point seek advice and help from trainers or Social Welfare Centre staff.

There were a total of 20 foster carers from 2 counties and 10 or so staff members from Social Welfare Centres.

During the 3 years of the program, the participants had been reflecting very positively on it, emphasising its usefulness, practicality, as well as expertise and friendliness of the program trainers.

The Social Welfare Centre staff were also satisfied with the undertaken training, which saved them some work as they themselves could not, due to lack of time, run such thorough training programs and offer all content that was included in this  program. 

During group foster family gatherings, foster carers got the opportunity to meet foster carers from areas that are not under the control of their Social Welfare Centre.

The exchanged experiences, which helped them foster and plan future joint activities.

The sustainability of this project is measured in the uptake of skills and competences required for offering good quality foster care to fostered children and which give foster carers a sense of security and competence, which they will have during their entire fostering career. 

 

Follow up monitoring after the program was neither part of the program nor was it planned.

 

Effectiveness

The aim of this program is the development of services and activities that contribute to quality fostering and better quality planning of foster care thus to increase the number of foster carers for children without appropriate parental care.

Specific goals of the program:

Providing necessary skills and competencies for quality child foster care to potential foster carers.
Providing necessary skills and competencies for quality child foster care to existing foster carers.
Offering appropriate professional assistance to foster carers of children with physical or behavioural difficulties.
Connecting foster families.  
Providing expert support and work supervision to Social Welfare Centre staff who deal with fostering.
Advancement and promotion of foster care.
Themed educational workshops lasting 4 hours were held, which included PPT presentations, exercises (individual and in pairs), discussion and evaluation.

All activities were undertaken in close cooperation with the Social Welfare Centres and in case of promotional activities, in conjunction with other relevant institutions in the community (Children’s homes, schools, religious communities  etc)

Individual counselling for foster carers and fostered children was undertaken by experts according to specific needs outlined by foster carers. Group gatherings of foster families were also held away from their place of residence.

Biological children of foster carers were also in attendance at excursions, which were of an educational and fun nature (museums, zoo, etc). An undertaken external and internal evaluation of the program showed great satisfaction from foster carers and Social Welfare staff.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Evaluation

An external and internal evaluation was undertaken. The internal evaluation was conducted continuously after each undertaken activity and the external one after every year and at the end of the entire program. The external evaluation included, apart from project documentation, foster carer focus groups and interviews with Social Welfare Centre staff. The educational workshops were evaluated through questionnaires that sought justification for the topics, their usefulness and appropriateness, quality of presentations and quality of presenters. The evaluation showed that foster carers and potential foster carers evaluated the appropriateness of the topics highly including the usefulness of the training organised by Sirius.  With Sirius’ involvement, the number of training workshops increased significantly through which continual training was undertaken to prepare foster carers to better perform their jobs. During the entire 3 years of the program, participants had very positive views of it, including emphasising its usefulness and practicality as well as the expertise and friendliness of the trainers. Individual counselling workshops received the highest marks, followed by the group gatherings. All materials are available at the Sirius Centre, however only the handbook on Individual Care Plan for the Child is available on our website, including a short description of the program.

Related documentation

All materials are available at the Sirius Centre, however only the handbook on Individual Care Plan for the Child is available on our website, including a short description of the program.

Contact / Information

Name: Ivana Belamarić

Position: Program manager

E-Mail: ivana@centar-sirius.hr

Business address: Trnjanska 59a, Zagreb

Country: Croatia

Tel: 385-1-6310 389

Key words
foster parent, happy childhood
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