I been asked to present a best practice forum on Orb8’s provision of Therapeutic Foster Care Training by the Institute of Recovery from Childhood Trauma (IRCT) at the House of Lords in June. I have also recently written a piece on Relationship-based Leadership for the National PSW Social Work Publication for World Social Work day. Whilst this is all very flattering it does leave me asking what do I know? I think the answer is probably quite a bit! I do have a doctorate where I spent 8 years studying hard to reach adolescents from the basis of mental health, emotional well-being, trauma and neurodevelopment and I have been practicing in children’s social care for over 30 years and more recently at senior management level.

You might be reading this thinking I am just using this an opportunity to show off and we might say it is very British to be modest and understated about what we know and have achieved.

So the first thing of importance may be that as a culture we are not very good at celebrating what we know and have achieved. But I would suggest there are further issues in noticing what we achieve and know in the field of foster care. Looking after traumatized children can make us feel very stupid, when children wrong foot us or completely ‘get one over us’, when they erupt at the simplest thing and when all the very sensible and kind responses that may have worked with our own children or in other roles turn to dust and leave us dumbfounded and at times feeling defeated. But I think it is important to recognize that we do know a lot, knowing how to spend time with very hurt and vulnerable children is a real skill. Every day they remain under your roof as part of your family is a triumph. When things seem difficult everyday it is important to notice the shy half a smile or the cereal bowl not thrown when a month before it would have gone whistling past your ear. Perhaps, the way we measure what we know and what we and the children we live with achieve needs to be very different to standard tests and forms. Perhaps, sometimes we need to take a step back and notice the micro moments of change and improvement.

It’s not often we or the children we care for get the big rewards but there may be small rewards, achievements and new learning everyday if we take the time to notice.

And if you are interested in finding out “what do I know“ you can come and hear my talk at the house of lords on the 21 June. Tickets are free via this link.

Dr Jane Herd – Completed her Doctorate on Hard to Reach adolescents at the Tavistock and Portman and is the Founder of Orb8 which provides a range of services for hard to reach, traumatised and marginalised children and young people and the organisations, staff and carers who work with them jane@orb8.org or https://www.orb8.org/