Restoration – caring for kids who are returning home
Restoration is the term used for reuniting children or young people with their families.
Caring for a child during the process of restoration can be challenging but it can also be hugely rewarding to see a child or young person reunited safely with their family.
The Permanency Support Program aims to assist vulnerable families so their children don’t enter the care system in the first place. However, there are some children and young people who must live with foster carers for a time while their families work towards making the home a safe and nurturing environment.
Restoration is a process
The time it takes to restore a child or teen to their family depends on several different factors.
Most importantly it depends on how the family is progressing at building parenting skills and creating a safe environment. No child will benefit from going home before their parents are ready, so for some children the process could be a matter of weeks while for others it could take longer.
The age of the child is another key factor. The time taken for a baby’s restoration may be much shorter than a school aged child.
Once a family is ready for restoration to begin, the amount of time that a child spends at home with their family will gradually increase from day visits to overnight stays.
Supporting children through restoration
The role of carers during restoration is crucial.
The carer is supporting a child to live in two different worlds: in the carer’s home, and increasingly as the restoration progresses, at home with their family. It’s particularly important for carers to reassure the child or young person that they don’t have to have divided loyalties. Key to this is for carers to develop a positive and respectful relationship with the family. Kids need to feel that everyone is supporting them. Carers can do this by:
- Encouraging family time and speaking positively about family,
- Transporting the child to family time,
- Attending meetings with the family and child,
- Sharing photographs and updates,
- Asking questions about the child or teen’s likes and dislikes and favourite activities when they are in their family home,
- Incorporating some of the same routines, food and activities into your home routines.
Carers need to care for themselves
Restoration can be an intense process. Carers may have feelings of grief and experience times of uncertainty. If you are in this situation, get as much support as you can.