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KEEP Standard - Dante
Dante has been living with his Aunt Leah for six months. He was moved from his mum’s care because of neglect. Dante had missed a lot of school and had looked after his baby sister often. Leah has no other children and had asked for some help parenting Dante. She was worried that he had lots of problems settling into his new school and that he broke things around the home. Her family had advised her to ‘take a firm line’ with Dante but she thought that this made the situation worse.
The KEEP group helped Leah to use pre-teaching with Dante to prepare him for his day in school. KEEP gave Leah the confidence to ask his class teacher for guidance on how to break the school day into chunks so that she could help Dante understand what he would be doing and what his class teacher expected of him.
Leah also used a visual routine chart for him at home. She used ‘when…then…’ to help reinforce his routine and help him to begin to tidy his things away after playing. The KEEP facilitators helped Leah to use distraction when Dante began to pick at the furniture or bang the doors. Leah would distract him with a song or a dance. Dante and Leah began to enjoy ‘music time’ together.
Leah enjoyed meeting other friends and family carers in the group. They talked together about parenting children of their own children or their siblings. Leah said that she might not have felt able to care for Dante without the support of the group and the KEEP facilitators. She fed back that she did not know learning about parenting could be so much fun.
KEEP Safe - Katrina
Janice is the foster carer for 12 year old Katrina. Karina had lived with her for over a year when Janice started the Keep group. Janice wanted to have Katrina’s placement made permanent but was worried that she might not have the skills needed to care for Katrina long term. She was worried that Katrina argues about doing tasks around the house, comes home late from school and refuses to hand her phone in at bedtime. Janice has lots of experience fostering younger children and her friends foster primary school age children. She said she feels out of her depth when she thinks about Katrina’s emerging adolescence.
Janice found the weekly PDR telephone calls from the KEEP facilitator really helpful. They helped her to focus on the behaviours that she was finding stressful. These were arguing and irresponsibility (always around her coming home late from school). Janice learned to wait for 10 seconds when she asked Katrina to do something. She found that this increased Katrina’s compliance. She also practised walking away from arguments which led to fewer arguments with Katrina. As the arguments reduced, Katrina became more open with Janice. She told her that she was late home from school because she was being bullied by a group of girls and had started to take a long way home to avoid them. She was also able to tell Janice that she felt ashamed of handing in her phone because she didn’t want Janice to read the bullying texts that she had received.
Janice was surprised that other foster carers in the KEEP group had similar worries about looking after teenagers. She found it helpful to hear how they had coached their teenagers to manage peer relationships. She loved the fun that was had in the group and fed back that the KEEP facilitators had done a great job with the group atmosphere. Janice has made new friends from attending the group; and they continue to meet up at KEEP support groups. She feels confident to care for teenagers and Katrina’s placement with her has been made permanent.
KEEP Prevention – Lewis
Lewis (4) has been living with his foster mother since he was 6 months old. Lewis was born with Cystic Fibrosis and remained in hospital for the first 6 months of his life. Due to significant child protection concerns, he was removed at birth and remained in hospital care until foster carers were sought. As Lewis got older, it became apparent that he had profound needs due to his poor early experience; both pre-birth and need for continued hospitalisation. Lewis’s carer Dianne reported that he had poor emotional literacy skills, would often have hot tempers and defiance if he could not get his own way and he would regularly be rough and unkind with other children. Although Dianne had fostered many children previously, she was very concerned about Lewis and was keen to get some help in preparation for Lewis’s transition to reception later in the year.
The KEEP-P Group helped Dianne to begin using pro-social language with Lewis to help her explain to him in clearer, simple language what she expected of him. Dianne was able to focus more on the use of “kind hands” and “kind bodies” to help him with his interactions with his peers both at home, nursery and during other social interactions. At home, Dianne used a railway train track chart to help Lewis know what was expected of him, this included doing good “minding” and following instructions and using a calm body and calm voice. Later, Dianne used her railway train track chart to support Lewis with managing transitions and daily routines such as ending play and managing shower time. The group empowered Dianne to be more proactive when picking her battles with Lewis, allowing her to prioritise which behaviours she wanted to work on. This led to fewer power struggles between her and Lewis. Dianne also found the use of take a break most effective, helping her to catch Lewis’s tempers early and intervene before an escalation.
Dianne was a valuable asset to the group process as she was willing to share her experiences and support others around the room who had similar behaviours to Lewis. Dianne said that she had enjoyed and valued having other people to talk to and although she had fostered for several years, she still found the weekly support group and the reflective nature of the process most helpful. Dianne reported that she valued having time and space to consider her parenting and to have the support of facilitators and other carers to help her evaluate her approach and recognise progress both with herself and with Lewis.