Have you ever heard of Kinship caring - until this year I hadn't!
This blog that I wrote back in July last year describes why my neice came to stay with us. As my journey into Kinship caring has progressed though I have come to realise just how little help and support is easily available to people like myself even from the professionals that are 'supposed' to know.
One major concern was finances, my sister had lived on benefits so there was no income to support raising her daughter. My parents having looked after her full time between her 3rd to 5th birthdays and again from September 2008 to May 2009 had only been receiving her child benefit and a very small monthly sum from what was the child support agency which they took out of the fathers wages. The total amount each month was approximately £150.00.
Another big concern was the emotional support that we were all going to need. We had always spent a lot of time with my sister and my neice despite them living 150 miles away. However death and grief blow all 'normality' away. There had been some major disruptions that my neice had caused at my parents which involved the social services child protection scheme becoming involved. My neice wanted to come and stay with us and was trying to make it impossible for her to stay at my parents not realising (at 11 years old you do not think much about repercussions I think) she was risking any chance of coming to be with us.
Not knowing that we would be able to get any help at all I first of all set about looking at how we would get a school place for her, after a week of trying one particular school who kept passing me back to the local education authority (who then kept sending me back to the school), my husband phoned our nearest secondary school and made good contact immediately. (I had tried another one first as my neice would have known a pupil in her year there). I followed this up and within 2 days a trial had been set up to start the week before 1/2 term in May and for the week after 1/2 term. So that was that - we had a 3 week trial period for her to come and 'test' the waters to see what living with us would be really like (as opposed to just spending holidays with us). It would also give my two children then age just 8 and 9 yrs a chance to see what it would be like as well.
Now the trial was set I needed to be able to address those two big concerns, I set about an internet search of what help would be available to us. Bearing in mind I had never at this point heard of the phrase kinship care (so couldn't google it!), I eventually found this on our local councils website when I saw the description of a kinship carer I almost cried:
"Kinship Care means that the family make arrangements for the child to be looked after by a close relative and so the child does not need to come into care".
and further more :
"Hampshire Children's Services Department are able to support and help Kinship Carers in most situations where the Department has been involved with the child and the family."
It felt like Christmas everything I needed. However as often seems to be the way the reality was very different. I telephoned the person on the site and was told that actually what I needed to do was to ring the general enquiries number for people requesting social services help and they would be the ones to decide whether or not I should be assessed!
So I rang and gave them a very brief outline of our situation. That all seemed simple enough (although very emotional, it was not an easy story for me to have to retell a stranger on the end of the phone), now I had to wait and was told that someone would ring me within 2 weeks to let me know whether I would get a further assessment or not.
Four weeks later after much chasing from me and the lady who I had first spoken to (whose name was on the website) I finally got a phone call from a social worker while I was at work one morning. (I was now a week away from the trial starting). When I reconfirmed the details that I had already given I was simply told that I didn't really need any social services intervention as my parents already had an residency order for my neice and so we just needed to get a solicitor and change it to us - that was it. I just sat there in disbelief and burst into tears. I then had to start divulging very personal information on the state of my mothers health and the social services intervention that had already taken place in great detail to this complete stranger on the end of the telephone. After doing this she changed her mind and said maybe we would benefit from having an initial assessment!
That assessment was actually with the social worker that I had spoken to on the phone and within 30 minutes of meeting us all confirmed that she would be taking on my neices case immediately and wanted to come and see her again alone the following Monday (this was Friday).
The door was still not open for us to be officially taking on the kinship caring role in the councils sight, which obviously meant still not guarantee of any financial help, but at least emotional help was starting for my neice at least.
The process of going through the school system, doing all the varied social services reports and getting to where we are today - 2 months off from our first anniversary all together goes on, I shall blog on part two next week.
If you know anyone else who is a kinship carer I would love to make contact with them. There is a fabulous facebook group that you can find here , you have to request to join but I have found the ladies there to be so friendly and extreemley pro-active in supporting people on their kinship journeys. There is also another group called the Family Rights Group . They appear to have a very broad range of reading material available though have only just found them so cannot say much more.
Life has got a little too hectic it seems, there have been some lovely times, there have been some difficult times, hopefully will start functioning a little better soon. These beautiful snowdrops have appeared in my front lawn under our magnolia tree. I planted them about 7 years ago and though I have seen some leaves in previous years I've never had flowers. They were well worth waiting for don't you agree?
Not to say that blessings have been late! Just I am running a little slow this week. Continuing my attempts to have an attitude of gratitude:
118. New shoes arriving in the post that fit perfectly with my special insoles.
119. Lots of crafting fun making cards and jewellery.
120. Having the idea to send valentine cards to the children full of praise.
121. Safe travelling to my parents and back again.
122. Friends who are willing to share their blessings with me and mine
123. The joy on great grandmas face as she played with Pippin when we visited her nursing home
124. Two whole days of no accidents in the house from Pippin.
125. The 1/2 term holiday from school, time to relax with the children.
126. My mums tears of grief, far better out than kept in.
127. The opportunity to go and visit where my sisters ashes were scattered on the day that should have been her 38th birthday, giving her daughter the chance to release a balloon.
This week I have completed a knitting project that I have had on the go for at least 3 years, possibly longer! It was supposed to have a knitted tie wrap around to fasten it, however I decided that I fancied doing something a little different. My initial intention had been to thread ribbon around the neck and then have a thicker ribbon to fasten it to one side. However I couldn't the ribbon I wanted so...........
I surfed around on the internet for beaded brooches/ buttons, I have another cardigan that I bought which fastens with a brooch and quite liked the idea of making one. I stumbled across images from this blog which made me think - I can do that! I already had lots of seed beeds (the little ones) so went and purchased some brooch fixings and some larger beads in a colour that matched my wool (forgetting to take the wool so having to rely on my memory!). I spent the princely sum of £3.50 and came home with my goodies. After and evening and an hour the following morning this is the result:
I used an old large button (2" diameter) and some left over curtain lining cotton to cover it. Once covered I then set about with needle and beading thread to layer the beads, starting with placing the large beads then working around them with the tiny seed beads and small beads. Once completed the brooch fitting was sewn onto a round piece of felt which was then sewn onto the back of the button. Et voila!
I was so pleased with the outcome that I then continued this is my little work tray I used so that I could sit comfortably on the sofa with my puppy:
I still had some of the large beads left and so decided to make a necklace and some earings - I had purchased all these jewellery fixing bits from a beading shop when we went to Brighton last month.
And here are the finished results, if I every get to inspire anyone else to try beading I would be very honoured, in the mean time I will just enjoy having made something for myself for the first time in a very long time.
A couple of weeks ago my husband and I really treated the children. We collected all three early from school to take them on a trip into London, we were due to arrive at the National Theatre (NT) by 5.30pm, not to watch anything within the actual theatres, but to see a friend who is trying to make it big time in the music business - Jem Cooke. I have known Jem since she was 11 years old, her younger sister Amy was my bridesmaid, I got married from their house and their parents Dave and Tina are my 10 year old sons God-parents. Most of Jems 'gig's' are late at night in clubs - not the sort of place you can take the children. This one however was in the foyer at the NT - perfect time for catching folk who are having a drink before leaving for home from the city and those arriving early for a meal before a performance.
leaving from our 'local' train station.
on the train
the very nice foyer
she got peoples attention :o)
the lady herself
The wonderful 'Dangerous' Dave
it was interesting for us to see a 'drawing' group all doing their own takes of the scene.
Bean Burger and Fries to end the evening off nicely on the train home.
It really was a most wonderful evening, we were back home for 9.30 and the two youngest still managed to get up for school the next day with a great story to tell.
This blog is a bit like a journal for me. I have found over the years that I can never sustain writing in a physical journal. However I seem to be able to quite happily tap out my thoughts now and again on this blog. My thoughts are often very random and sporadic. I would love to hear your thoughts on what you read.