03 Dec Fusion Fostering’s new children’s zone
For every new child in placement Fusion sends out a children’s guide to them. This explains all of the jargon and tells the children a little more about Fusion, they have been feeling a little sorry for themselves, so Beth – Care Partner in the East Midlands – made it her mission to produce something that was more interactive and a general update. This has now been completed and we have two amazing new children’s guides.
For under 10’s we have a booklet and three videos, and for over 10’s we have a booklet. These are interactive and easy to use. We want Fusion to be at the forefront of fostering, and these booklets help hugely with this. We are the only fostering agency in the UK to have videos as well as booklets. We hope that these will help the children will feel more at ease in their placements. We also hope that it helps them regard Fusion in a more positive way.
Beth said –
It came to light that the children’s guides for Fusion Fostering had not been effective in getting the message across to children in our care about who Fusion are and what we do. This needed to change, as children need to have a good understanding of why they are in foster care, what to do if they are unhappy and what to expect. This also needed to be delivered in a more positive way.
Given that we want to ensure that our children’s guide contained the correct information it was important to ensure that the children we care for had a say in what they feel they would like to know and how they felt that the guides should look.
Participation with our children was key to ensuring that our guides became fit for purpose. The children we work with are capable of forming a view and have the right to express that view freely in all matters affecting him or her. These views should be given due weight in accordance with the age and maturity of the child. This included asking the children what they wanted to know about Fusion when they were placed. Things like, “what will my foster carer do?, What is expected of me?, how long will I be staying?, what will the rules be? Will I get pocket money?
We also added some positive messages of famous people that had been in foster care and their achievements. This gave the guide a much more positive feel from the outset and gave weight to what can be achieved in foster care. This is a starting point to try and hopefully change the stigma associated with being in foster care. Children expressed that they often did not want people to know they were in foster care because of how they are viewed. Having known faces in the guide who have been fostered helped to alleviate some of this stigma and the children who I worked with enjoyed researching this. They felt shocked but inspired about what they too can achieve.
The children also helped with the design and for the older children’s guide or “Young person’s go to guide” they chose graffiti and lots of colour, to make this look more age appropriate and above all “cool”. They also picked the title. It was explained that young people will not look at the guide it it isn’t cool and funky. It was also highlighted that an index page would be good as the Young People may not be inclined to read the whole guide and may just want to refer to it when they need to.
The guide for the younger children was carefully considered with a child age 8 years who cannot read or write. We discussed this and he felt that a video would be better, that he could watch with his carer. The child also made reference to this needing to be funny – again highlighting a positive feel, rather than a very formal approach. This was a challenge and took some time to get this right with a story and animation. Foz the Fusion Frog was created as a animated character with a funny voice giving a very important message. We also considered that some younger children may have a shorter attention span and therefore created 3 short clips that can be watched separately. This then also caters for children with additional needs.
The feedback from children has been excellent, more often than not with them laughing and smiling after watching the video, which is what we had hoped to achieve.
Fusion Fostering is an agency that needs to be regulated and as such procedures are in place to ensure that our children have what they need and are protected. This does not mean that it cannot be delivered in a happy and fun manner which appeals to the most important people in our agency. The children!!
We are looking for feedback and testimonials which we can use for marketing purposes, so if you have any please send them my way – firstname.lastname@example.org
You can find the online versions here.
Currently, there are more than 7000 carers needed in the UK alone, meaning more than 7000 children are living without the proper care of a loving family that they so desperately require. Keeping our foster families happy means we receive a higher number of success stories to share, allowing us to raise awareness for the need of carers across the country. This, in turn, allows us to achieve our goal of finding more loving foster homes for those children in need.