The four siblings returned shortly after we have spoken to our Placements team. As Foster Carers you learn to expect the unexpected but this had come as a bit of a surprise. The children were all very upset when they returned. We had partially replaced their rooms so we sent them to put their clothes away while we spoke to their Social Worker. Apparently there had been a phone conversation between the Social Worker and Mum had stated that she didn’t want the 4 siblings returning as she wasn’t mentally prepared to accept them back.
Despite the Social Worker saying that he would organise support for them to return home Mum refused to take them back and, therefore, they had returned to us. When our own children and the remaining girl, from the previous sibling group, returned from school they were somewhat surprised to see the four children sat eating some food in the kitchen. I have to be honest and say that, for the first time, our kids were not exactly thrilled to see a placement. So we sat at the dinner table and repeated our usual welcoming speech and reminded the returning four about the rules of the house and what we expected from them. The eldest of the group asked how long they were going to be with us and we replied that we had no idea as we were waiting for Mum to decide what she wanted to do. I mentioned the fact that if they were going to stay for a fair period we would have to sort out schools for them. The eldest replied that Mum didn’t believe in school and that the children would learn more from watching TV at home rather than going to school every day. It became obvious that education was not a priority for the family and that the children had not experienced a great deal of positive parenting at home. Having four older children with us who were not attending school really threw our normal routine out of the window. When our two and the young girl B, from our previous placement, getting up and going to school it was difficult for them to see the other four sitting around. We had decided that all the children would get up at the same time, despite the protests of the four siblings. We told them that, if required, we would find them a school and they would be attending. They protested but we reminded them that education was important for their long term wellbeing and it also gave them the chance to make friends.
Our own children told us that they were getting some remarks about them going to school while the four siblings were sitting at home all day. We were concerned that there would end up being a dispute of some kind so we came up with a plan, with the agreement of the children’s Social Worker, for them to get some home tutoring. The eldest refused at first and we got the whole, ‘you’re not my parents, you cannot tell me what to do’ speech. However we told her that it wasn’t up for discussion, which didn’t go down too well. As previously stated we had a room set aside for the children’s entertainment. This room included a TV with Sky TV box and a PlayStation. There was also a computer which the children could use and this was monitored on a regular basis. The door to this room was always kept open and the computer desk was set up in such a way that we could walk past, without the children knowing, and see what they were looking at. A friend of mine came round and set up all sorts of security software.