Spotlight on: birth family contact

19 June 2018

“Maintaining contact with a child’s birth family can be very positive, giving the child a sense of emotional continuity, continued familial affection and the reassertion of self-identity.

“For some, though, contact can be a time of particular upheaval and even ‘regression’ in fostered children, according to circumstance. Fortunately for me, G’s contact with her birth family has generally gone well, as G is very attached to them and clear guidelines are in place, alongside constant supervision, to avoid problems.

“She generally comes home very cheerful and laden with presents, anecdotes, and memories that I help her to preserve. However, there have been some challenges that have highlighted the importance of good and consistent contact supervision, including emotional manipulation, false promises of returning home and the handing out of a mobile phone, complete with the family’s contact details.

“When things go wrong, it can be traumatic for the child, as in G’s case, as well as for the birth family and the carers, affecting the child and carers for some time afterwards. The contact difficulties were resolved, in my case, through strong communication between G’s local authority, my supervising social worker and me, resulting in changing to a new contact supervision agency and a renewal of the supervision contract with the birth family.”

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