At this point, our social workers look for the best foster care match for the child, depending on their age, the living arrangements of the foster care, and the type of foster care the child needs: emergency, short-term, or long-term.
In Uganda, a child at risk or who has been left is first placed in an emergency or short-term foster care whilst our social workers find a relative that can take care or trace for their families. If their family is traced but is unsafe for the child to be placed back home, then the child is matched with a long-term foster parent. In some instances, the parents may be going through long-term mental health challenges or there are no immediate family members who are able to take care of the child, then the child is placed in long-term foster care.
If a child is able to speak and understand, our trained social workers spend some time with them to get them as comfortable as possible, explaining the situation and reassuring them. As the social worker places the child with a foster carer, Child’s i Foundation provides the child with a care package that includes clothes, age-appropriate toys, milk, and food.
Once the social worker is sure that the child is safe and settling well into a new foster family setting, they start tracing for their families. They place posters in the community, place radio announcements and newspaper adverts to trace for the parents.
If a child has been taken from an unsafe home, our social workers regularly visit the family and speak to them on how best to look after the children. If the family is struggling to look after the children due to a lack of income, we support the parents with a small grant to start a business to help them take care of their family. In cases of malnutrition, we provide the family with immune-boosting food packages while our community nurse supports the family by training them on how to cook and prepare healthy, nutritious food.
If a family is found, our social workers visit and talk with the family to understand the circumstances under which they felt they could no longer be able to take care of the child. Having close connections with local Probation and Social Welfare officers is vital when tracing the family members of a child under our care. These government officials help us check the official records and make sure that the families we find are biologically related to the child. Before we place the child back into the family, we assess the family and work together with them to ensure that they overcome the challenges they are facing and that they will be able to take care of the child. We support the family with rent, food, clothing, access to medical care as well as mental health support. We also support the parents with a small grant to start a business so they can be able to earn an income and take care of their family.
If a child’s family is not found, the child is then adopted or placed in long-term foster care. While in long-term foster care, we support the child with their education, medical care, and everything they need to ensure that they are happy and thriving.
In the UK, once the local authority identifies a child that is at risk and fails to find a family member who can provide a safe home for the child, they put together a referral of the young person which includes their life’s journey. They then contact agencies like Blue Sky Fostering asking for a match. Blue sky then matches the child with a foster carer to ensure that a child’s needs are met and visits the local authority with the foster carer for placement.
Both in Uganda and in the UK, the foster parents are trained to ensure that the children in their care have a voice, are empowered, listened to, and are engaged in positive activities to give them a “leg up”. At Blue Sky, this work is overseen by Ed Hill-Thompson, who is the Training & Participation Manager, which means anything that young people feel, or share, can be fed directly into the training provided to the Foster Carers.
Collaboration at the heart of foster care
It takes a long time to build a new alternative care system and it is only through our work with the government, local partners, local community volunteers, and organisations like Blue Sky Fostering, that we are able to change the way we care for children in Uganda.
“No children at risk were placed in orphanages during the pandemic as we were able to quickly place them in safe and loving families with approved foster carers in the district.”
– Evelyn Nanteza, Project Manager Tororo
Since the beginning of our partnership in 2013, Blue Sky Fostering team have raised a whopping £49,081 to build a foster care programme in Uganda. Together, we are able to build the capacity of our foster carers in Uganda by empowering them with the expertise and techniques that they can adapt or tailor-make to Uganda needs to help them provide quality foster care to children in need.
In the past 8 years, Blue Sky Fostering has kindly shared the time and expertise of their highly skilled social workers to upskill our team in Uganda and ensure they have everything they need to provide high-quality support to vulnerable children and families. 5 social workers went to Uganda to work directly with the team on the ground on specific development projects to support the programme.