Foster carers given more help to keep children safe from abuse

Katrina Armstrong from Ampthill supporting the Foster Care Fortnight campaign.
Katrina Armstrong from Ampthill supporting the Foster Care Fortnight campaign.

New guidance supporting foster carers to keep children in their care safe from abuse is being launched this week.

Carers across the county are backing the NSPCC’s campaign during The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight which runs until June 14.

Central Bedfordshire Council is also backing the guidance for foster carers, which will help them have conversations with children under their care about sexual abuse and how to stay safe.

The children’s charity has worked with The Fostering Network to develop the guidance as part of their successful Underwear Rule campaign, aimed at helping parents of 5 to 11 year olds to have simple conversations with their children about keeping safe from abuse. It teaches children that their body belongs to them, they have the right to say no, and that they should tell an adult if they’re upset or worried.

The NSPCC’s original Underwear Rule campaign was aimed at helping support parents and carers talk to primary school age children about sexual abuse, and complemented the organisation’s schools service, which is visiting every primary school in the UK advising children on how to stay safe from all forms of abuse.

Colin Peak, NSPCC regional head of service for north London and the east of England, said: “We received a brilliant response to our Underwear Rule campaign and since 2013 we estimate that an additional 400,000 parents have had Underwear Rule conversations with their children. We were keen to roll this out to certain groups and The Fostering Network seemed a really important group to work with.

“Foster carers we talked to felt that the Underwear Rule was a great way to have simple conversations with children in their care. However, it was also important to recognise the different circumstances that foster parents may face and so the additional guidance provides information and advice to help foster carers feel confident in talking to children about keeping safe from abuse.

“It has been great to get the support from Central Bedfordshire who have worked with us during the consultation and have committed to helping us share the guidance with their foster carers.”

Councillor Carole Hegley, executive member for social care and housing at Central Beds, said: “Parents and foster carers may find the thought of having conversations like these daunting, so the easiest thing to do is to make it part of your daily routine.

“You probably don’t think twice about reminding your children to stay safe when crossing the road, so the more you have these conversations, the easier they will be.

“By encouraging your children to speak out about anything that’s worrying them from an early age, they will get into the habit of doing so, and you will build up an open and trusting relationship.”

Melissa Green, director of operations at The Fostering Network, said: “Foster carers face the challenging prospect of having the most difficult of conversations with children who may not have been in their care for very long. This guidance will ensure that foster carers have the tools to have these conversations, and to keep the children in their care safe from abuse.

“We are delighted to have worked with the NSPCC on helping to bring such an important conversation to children in foster care, and the foster carers who devote their lives to supporting and loving them.”

The foster care Underwear Rule guidance is available on the NSPCC website http://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/advice-and-info/underwear-rule-guidance-foster-carers.pdf