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Frequency of contact in long-term care Expand / Collapse
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Posted 13/08/2011 7:00:24 AM
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Hi

I'm curious about the frequency of contact that is the norm for children in long-term care. My FD sees her birth parents a total of 18 times a year and then there is also some informal contact with her extended family.

We are both finding this pretty intense. I had understood that for children in long-term care the amount of contact was usually much less than this in order to let them move on with their lives.

What are other people's situations? Is this normal?

Also, do people think it's better for children to have contact with various family members around the same time of the month, or spread out. My thinking is that if we have a couple of days once a month of contact then she will have some time to settle before the next round. Any thoughts?

Cheers

Solo
Post #60891
Posted 13/08/2011 8:20:42 AM
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Hey Solo

As you know, I do not have any children in long term care with me. But I know lots of people who do. The majority of people that I know have contact every 3 months (with it usually be cancelled or the birth family not showing up). I know that these people found that in the first year the contact arrangements were intense, but after a while (and much complaint) the contact visits were reduced and the kids became less anxious.

Talk to S about it at the next LAC.

xox

UH
Post #60893
Posted 30/08/2011 1:12:30 PM


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Well family contact can be a challenge.  Our guys are long term and we have family contact 3hrs once a month.  This is working for us at this time.  Our oldest who turned 8 is wanting less contact but his case workers over time have said no to reducing contact.  Their argument is that it is important to see what it could be like to be with the birth parent/s and to see how good they have it now.  My argument is 'at what cost to the children'  are we meant to drag them kicking and screaming to contact? 

We used to have 8hrs per month and that was a killer for all involved even the birth parent.  Each extended family member had 8hrs and thankfully some of them do not want that amount.  As time is going on it is all becoming a bit more informal with some members and just the structured contact for those that need it. 

I hope this helps as this is how it is for us.  Some contacts are great and some just awful.

Cheers

Zeeta 27 NSW

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Posted 2/09/2011 11:11:30 PM
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Hi,
Different kids and different families, different carers and different caseworkers adds up to a lot of variations when it comes to family contact. But one thing is a definite - as a carer it's not my job to force a child to go to a contact visit if he or she refuses to go. I've been a carer a long time and I don't try to force kids to do anything. I'll support the kids and I'll nurture them and I'll be kind and loving and of course I'll also be strict when I need to be. But when it comes to a kid not wanting to go to contact I'll let the caseworker know what's happening and leave it up to him or her to work it out with the child and the family. Sometimes I find I have to be firm with the caseworkers, but I won't have them trying to make it my problem. I'm there to support the children with what they want.
all the best and keep on doing a great child-centred job!
Carol.
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Posted 23/09/2011 12:55:18 PM
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Thanks for your replies.

It does look like contact will be reduced at least a bit. I'll have a better idea over the next couple of months what the frequency will be for next year.

I also have also decided (and my agency have agreed) not to force my fd to attend contact - I think that's in everyone's best interest that children are given some control over when and if contact happens. I make a big effort to be positive and encouraging about her visits but I have decided that it's most important for her to know that she can trust me as her primary carer and advocate, feel able to tell me how she's feeling, and for her to know that she has some control over her own life.

I know that contact with birth family is the best way to help children understand their situation, and for a bit of continuity, particularly if they choose to have a relationship with their birth parents in the future, but really how much is necessary!? If the children themselves are saying no then I think that should be respected. The poor things have been through enough already.

We are also trialling "clustering" visits around the same time but first attempt failed because she refused to attend so we have had to reschedule. I will post again after we tried it a few times and let you know how it goes. I think that sort of practical information and sharing of experience is invaluable. To introduce a topic from another thread - I hope that you all keep posting despite this forum being 'monitored' - (a big hug and kisses to all you monitor's out there :-X ).

Cheers

Solo
Post #62817
Posted 6/10/2011 11:45:07 AM


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Hey Solo, you are so lucky to have your agency on board with respecting the childs wishes.  We have to force our fs to attend and it is awful and he resents us and the department and says we don't love him by making him go to access.  We have placed all blame on the dept and have explained that we work for them and have to keep these rules.  We are always discussing with the dept about what you want but are not being listened to.

He becomes so angry.  Any tips to be heard?

Zeeta 27 NSW

Post #63245
Posted 13/10/2011 7:50:20 AM
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Hi Zeeta 27

I believe that children do have the right to refuse contact but I'm not exactly sure if I was told that by my agency or by someone else (maybe connecting carers or another foster carer?)

There is certainly pressure for contact to go ahead but I have documented pretty thoroughly my FD reactions to contact. I also discussed her reactions with a couple of different psychologists and that was helpful. With advice from the psychologists, my agency and I have been able to agree that I will give her several options about contact each time (ie. where it happens), and one of those options is that she does not have to go.

This is all very recent of course so only time will tell how it all works out.

I think Green Forest Fairy is right - if the child refuses apart from encouraging them I don't think you should be in a position where you feel you have to force them to go. You should let the case worker deal with it. As long as you can show that your are being encouraging to your foster son and making a genuine effort with contact then I really don't see what else you can be expected to do. If it's damaging your relationship with him then who is that going to help? It can't be helping his relationship with his birth family either if he's being forced against his will to see them.

Has your foster son spoken with his case worker about it himself? I think that they should be speaking with him about how he feels about seeing his family.

That's my 2 cents worth. hope it helps!
Post #63514
Posted 19/10/2011 10:53:19 AM


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solo (13/10/2011)
Hi Zeeta 27

I believe that children do have the right to refuse contact but I'm not exactly sure if I was told that by my agency or by someone else (maybe connecting carers or another foster carer?)

There is certainly pressure for contact to go ahead but I have documented pretty thoroughly my FD reactions to contact. I also discussed her reactions with a couple of different psychologists and that was helpful. With advice from the psychologists, my agency and I have been able to agree that I will give her several options about contact each time (ie. where it happens), and one of those options is that she does not have to go.

This is all very recent of course so only time will tell how it all works out.

I think Green Forest Fairy is right - if the child refuses apart from encouraging them I don't think you should be in a position where you feel you have to force them to go. You should let the case worker deal with it. As long as you can show that your are being encouraging to your foster son and making a genuine effort with contact then I really don't see what else you can be expected to do. If it's damaging your relationship with him then who is that going to help? It can't be helping his relationship with his birth family either if he's being forced against his will to see them.

Has your foster son spoken with his case worker about it himself? I think that they should be speaking with him about how he feels about seeing his family.

That's my 2 cents worth. hope it helps!

Hi solo, thanks.  My documentation is thorough each access.  My fs has spoken to his caseworker at the time many times and she has told him he has to see his birth mum.  No ifs nor buts.  They believe because of his disability he can not make that decision and this angers him.  He can make perfectly great decisions all the time but in the dept eyes he cant.  On the flip side they tell us he is fine and we are hypocondriacts (can't spell)around his disability.  They, the dept, flip flop to suit themselves and what they want and stuff the rest of us and what we are going through. 

The only psych we have seen is the dept one.  We have asked for added support and somewhere our fs can off load eg a private psych and are told no it costs too much along with the long speel bla bla bla. 

Sorry.  I sound all doom and gloom, I am hormonal and feeling put out by our agency by some feed back we got from birth family members.  I feel so low and why bother to fight.  I wonder, if we just don't ask for assistance and keep our heads down it may all go away.  Ha Ha. 

Maybe when the hormones subside I will be ready to go again.

Thanks.

Zeeta 27 NSW

Post #63803
Posted 8/11/2011 4:21:29 PM
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Yes - Its actually nice to come across another carer who also struggles with the frequency of contact.

Our situation is pretty full-on as well and if I had my time again to choose whether to foster these particular children again knowing their contact situation I would have said "Sorry but No".

I think it is really important that Foster carers are made fully aware of the big part contact can play in fostering.


Our 2 FD's (siblings) have 3 hour contacts over 70 times per year (6/month)!!! - yes its true.

We have had the girls for over 3 years and they are now 9 and 7. They have been in permanent care for over 6 years and the contact arrangements have always been this way due to a court order that was never rectified. The girls don't know anything different.

Thus the girls have very strong attachments to their birth parents and have struggled over the years to attach to us. We are a close family these days (these are our only kids!) but the contact arrangements really take over your life and have affects on the way our family functions most weekends.

When the contacts aren't cancelled and the parents show up - they have lots of fun and can't wait till they do it again next week! So this just reinforces the fantasy of how great things are with "Mum and Dad". The girls never know how much organising, sacrifice and frustration goes on behind the scenes of this circus each week.


The contact arrangements are in the process of being reduced to once/month which will help the girls get on with their lives and also help them feel a bit more " permanent" with us.

This of course will take some time to process. To give you an idea of how attached these girls are to contact - these girls will choose to go to contact even if they are sick! - which is disturbing!

We are also in the process of adopting the girls - but I wonder whether they want to be adopted considering how close their bond is with their parents - I feel as though the damage has been done and these girls will struggle with not seeing them as often and see us as the enemy that is getting in the way of them seeing Mum and Dad!


keep at it and hopefully things will improve - I need to stay positive too - its hard enough parenting traumatized kids let alone dealing with lots of contact!

They say it "is in the best interests of the kids" but at what cost?

xxxAnnette
Post #64328
Posted 8/11/2011 9:38:01 PM
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[quote]nanny76 (8/11/2011)
Yes - Its actually nice to come across another carer who also struggles with the frequency of contact.

Our situation is pretty full-on as well and if I had my time again to choose whether to foster these particular children again knowing their contact situation I would have said "Sorry but No".

I think it is really important that Foster carers are made fully aware of the big part contact can play in fostering.


Our 2 FD's (siblings) have 3 hour contacts over 70 times per year (6/month)!!! - yes its true.


[/quote]

Nanny76 - that is outrageous! Who on earth thought that would be a good arrangement? I am amazed that you have lasted 3 years!

I really hope that the monthly visits make life easier for you but you are right - it is likely to be a bumpy ride with the girls being so strongly attached still to their birth parents.

My deepest admiration goes to you for sticking with those girls.
Post #64334
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