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How to tell a foster child they are leaving

When you foster with Family Fostering Partners, family comes first; the value of a familial bond is central to everything we do with our network of foster parents and the children in their care.

It's no surprise then that when a foster placement ends, it's an emotional time, causing sadness and grief both for the family left behind and the child who's moving on.

Reasons a foster placement might end

With all types of foster care, there is always the understanding that the placement will end unless the placement becomes a legal adoption by the foster family.

There are several reasons for this:

  • Adoption
  • Return to birth family
  • Independent living
  • Change of foster home
  • Specialist placement

Foster care farewells - time to say goodbye

Saying goodbye to anyone we care about is always challenging. Handling the process of saying goodbye can be guided by the foster parents as well as the supervising social worker. It can be determined by the child's age or the nature of the move, e.g. adoption.

In straightforward terms, it is essential to 'keep calm and carry on'.

Trust the court's decision

As a foster parent, you may have reservations about a child in your care moving elsewhere or even back to their birth family. But, ultimately, you should trust that the court's decision is the right one.

Stay positive

This next move in the child's life has their best interests at heart, but that's not necessarily how the child will see it. Open and age-appropriate conversations about what is to come should help facilitate a successful transition. Whilst saying goodbye is painful, you can look forward anew to fresh success with the next young person placed with you.

Keep calm

You might be nervous about this next stage, but you can be sure the child will be too. Keep an open dialogue throughout, answering any questions as best you can as the move date gets closer.

Thanks for the memories

Sharing photos, stories or videos of the happy times you've shared are a great way to reinforce a sense of a child's value and personal identity. In some cases, proactive contact can be sustained between the birth and foster families too.

One day at a time

Both the lead up to the leaving date and the aftermath can be stressful times. It is not uncommon for a child to be removed from the home very suddenly, which can be a shock. However, take one day at a time so you and your family can adjust and grieve for the person they've lost.

When a foster care placement doesn't work out

Sometimes the placement simply isn't working, and this realisation brings conflicting emotions. For example, challenging behaviours by a child in your care, such as abuse, the destruction of property or flagrant disregard for boundaries, can leave you feeling like you've failed in your duty as a foster parent.

It is important to remember that you are only human, and if you've done your best, it might be time to discuss other solutions with the supervising social worker.

Family first with Family Fostering Partners

Across Wales and into Mid-West England, Family Fostering Partner's link workers and support staff remain dedicated to helping our foster parents be the best foster parents they can be. You are never alone, and advice and guidance are never far away.

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