Keeping Memories

Standards and Regulations

Training, Support and Development Standards for Foster Care:

Also see: Identity.

It is difficult to know where you are going if you don't know where you came from!

For most children and young people, the birth family is the place where they have all the knowledge and memories about the child. Children separated from their families do not have daily access to this information about their background.

It becomes more difficult for them to develop a strong sense of self and to understand how the past may influence present behaviours. Without this awareness, it will be more difficult for them to make conscious choices and to take responsibility for their own behaviours.

It is important that children and young people have a good understanding of their background and you will help this process from the day the child is placed with you.

You should record the story of the child's stay with you as fully as possible, including:

  • Descriptions of what the child was like when they arrived, what they liked and disliked;
  • Details of development (e.g. learning to swim);
  • Special memories of the child;
  • Birthdays, Christmas and other family celebrations/outings/holidays etc. - photos, favourite places etc.
  • Details and photos of your family (including extended family), home, pets etc.
  • School - photos, certificates, reports, photos of and stories from teachers;
  • Contact visits;
  • Significant illnesses;
  • Funny stories;
  • Photos and video clips of birth family with your family;
  • Crafts/pictures/work completed in your home/school/playgroup.

The above work contributes to their Life Story. The child by their second Looked After Review may have a Permanence Plan which will start to look at how a permanent alternative family can be found including considering adoption. Gathering memories will be vital as this progresses.

Life Story work/book is often helpful for children who have been Looked After for a significant period of time. Making a Life Story book is about putting together an account of a child's life in words; pictures and documents and involves helping a child to make sense of their past. This process will be co-ordinated by the child's social worker and involve you, the child, parents and relatives and significant others. This is particularly helpful when the child becomes an adult to help them make sense of what happened.

You should keep all memories in a memory box or book specifically for the child/young person.