The Irish Foster Care Association’s Moving Forward programme offered foster carers a space to come together and explore the impact of loss, grief and change in a supportive and confidential setting. The programme consists of three linked sessions over a period of three months. Workshops were held around the country from May to September 2018 in Cork, Tullamore, Enniscorthy, Limerick, Tuam and Tallaght.
The content looked at ambiguous loss, disenfranchised grief and the links between attachment and grief and loss. Consideration of coping strategies and information on stress and relaxation was incorporated into the programme. Participants were invited to consider their personal loss histories and really engage with the material in an experiential way. Because of this, the groups were “closed” after the first workshop had taken place.
The overwhelming response of participants to the workshop content and style was positive. Foster carers felt both better informed and supported on issues of loss and grief in foster care. Here is some feedback we received:
“I am not on my own” “This should be a must for foster carers”
“My feelings are my own and I don’t need to justify or explain them… it is OK to acknowledge the sacrifices and changes that have come to our family through becoming foster carers”
A booklet was written as part of the programme. This booklet will provide anyone who couldn’t attend a workshop with useful information and it is available online or in hard copy from the IFCA office. (attach link to the online version here)
Foster carers felt that the workshops gave them the space and permission to acknowledge and reflect on the impact of loss in their lives. It is our belief that provision of information and training on how to manage multiple experiences of loss better equips foster carers to cope. IFCA was very fortunate in having the opportunity to work with so many foster carers over the lifetime of the Moving Forward programme so… thank you.