Pathway Planning Blog.
Today Michael ( names changed ) met his new 16+ Local Authority Social Worker (LASW) for the first time. It was a garden visit, so luckily the weather was sunny. Michael isn’t ever keen on having visits from Social Workers, basically because he is so settled and just wants to be “Normal.”
His previous Social Worker was lovely – she used to pop her head around his bedroom door and tell him she didn’t really want to disturb him, but needed to know that he was ok. She would usually chat for around 5 minute s and come to tell me that he wanted nothing at all to change – he was settled, thriving and happy. She would chat with my husband, Peter and I.
We would reflect on the progress he had made form that 9 year old terrified small child who pushed us away and tested us time and time again to see whether we would push him away and reject him. Slowly, as his attachment to us grew stronger and we became more attuned to his needs and the things that would trigger his outbursts he began to settle.
We were given great advice, we were told to name his emotions. As is so often the case with traumatised children, Michael’s emotional needs had been unmet by parents who were too caught up in trying to manage their own problems and needs.
I explained to Michael that his LASW visit was pretty necessary as there has to be a Pathway Plan. It is a statutory document that all Young People who are looked after need. Michael understands the need to get this right ( because of the experience of his older brother and sister ) and asked, “ Jayne, can we just write the plan, tell them I am staying here until I finish my education, Staying Put and ask them not to bother me until I am at least 21 or I finish my education?”
He gave me a wry smile. I responded with, “If that’s how you feel, you just tell it as it is! You know we will be here for you until 21 and beyond Michael. We are your forever family!”
After Michael’s “meeting”, which lasted over an hour (a record length for Michael ) we met with the LASW.
He seemed happy with how Michael had engaged with the process and assured us that he would complete the plan before going on holiday at the end of the week and send a copy across to us. It will be interesting to read how well Michael has communicated his wishes and to see whether anything is lost in the translation. The LASW seemed to really understand Michael.
In these times of austerity the Local Authority are looking at all ways to stretch their budgets. We know from bitter experience the sweeping decisions that are made in an attempt to make tiny savings that could have massive repercussions for the Care Leavers, their identity and their mental health.
Jayne Robbins – Blogging Foster Carer.