Empowering Futures: The Art of Championing for Kids in Kinship and Foster Care

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Every Child Deserves a Champion.  At the heart of KICS Kinship and Foster Care (KICS KFC) Service is the belief that every child deserves a champion. But what does it mean to be a champion for a child? It’s not about leading the way but allowing the child to take the lead. As a carer it’s about listening intently to the needs and wants of the child and as the Support Worker it is about learning to truly hear the child and the family.  For both the Carer and the Support Worker, it is learning to walk beside the child and to borrow a term from the Circle of Security program, it is about “Being with”.

Being with is central to the circle of security approach.  Every child has a parent or caregiver who recognises and honours their feelings.  It reminds the child they are safe to stay within the core of how they feel without having those emotions denied while giving them opportunity to learn self-regulation.

Using the concept of “being with” when championing for children in care is more than supporting self-regulation.  Championing for a child is a commitment to uphold their dignity and rights, ensure cultural connection and enhancing the overall care.  It’s a call to be an advocate with a higher purpose. According to Ki Tyson, KICS KFC South-West Team Leader, “Effective championing for the child or young person is more than tokenistic participation in feelings or life events —it’s about being connected and sitting in the space of identity, despite potential triggers for both the carer and the young person”.

“Being a champion, requires following the Statement of Standards, being open to exploring how that will look for the individual child and enhancing the care of that child” continues Ms Tyson.

Championing will not only benefit the child but also the kinship or foster carer, the community, and the family unit. The process should involve gaining and sharing information, uncovering new insights that can be beneficial to all parties involved.

In saying this Ms Tyson points out “Championing is not without its challenges.  There may be personal triggers, societal constructs and identity barriers.  Overcoming these hurdles requires conversation, connection and resources for the carer and child.”

Practitioners and support workers play a pivotal role in supporting champions to overcome challenges. This involves working in partnerships with carers, identifying needs, exploring strategies, and addressing barriers to ensure the well-being of the child or young person.

Ms Tyson reinforces the role a Support Worker can have in encouraging carers to champion for a child in challenging times. “Through monitoring and statutory case work processes, the Support Worker can identify when a Carer might need additional support themselves.  From there they can provide some informal training, skills development, help with meeting the needs of the child or just to be there for the difficult conversations”.

Championing for a child or young person in care is about seeing all that is positive and possible for the child.  However, it also involves Support Workers and Practitioners to walk with the Carer in their role as champion.

At KICS we go beyond the statutory care requirements to ensure that the Kinship or Foster Carer feels valued and respected in their role as champion for the child/ren or young person/people in their care.

If you wish to learn more about how KICS supports Kinship and Foster Carers, please visit KICS FACEBOOK.