The National Foster Care Association Malta NFCAM hosted several activities for foster carers and children during the summer period. Some activities were also related to the European project called PICK (Pride in Care-Levers Konnected Europe) of which IFCO is a partner. Others were for its local members.
Benefiting foster carers and children
Having fun during the summer is the essential thing for all children. It is important to enjoy the outdoors and the beauty of nature. For this reason, the committee organised an outdoor drum session, a keep fit session, and horse riding. It was the first time playing the drums or riding a horse for some children, and some foster carers were surprised to discover how physically fit they were.
Social events important after Covid
These sessions were a breath of fresh air after months of not meeting face to face because of Covid. The committee is planning for other similar activities for the coming winter season.
Important for sibling connections and friendships
One of the other successes was that sibling groups were able to enjoy events together in an informal and natural setting. Without the focus on their guardianship setting but rather the focus on a fun activity, they were able to enjoy each other’s company and be relaxed. This is also really important after Covid when meeting in person was not necessarily possible so connection and reconnection are so important.
Also, children often tell us about feeling isolated if they are in foster care or if their parents are foster carers and they cannot explain their family situations. It is very clear that these types of events are a safe and encouraging place for children to create friendships with other children in similar situations without the formality of adult-directed reflection. Instead, they can explore their friendships and connections and have situations be resolved in a peer-to-peer way and have another support as well as their parents. It is wonderful to see this happening naturally and not something that anyone can artificially create. Children are only able to talk like this when they feel safe to do so.
I highly recommend these types of activities, or whatever other activities your country or foster carer network can create for the benefit of foster families. The benefit of informal support is just as important as the formal support of social workers and the system.
John Role, IFCO Board Member/NFCAM, Malta