Delivering the Incredible Years parent programme to foster carers in Wales: reflections from group leader supervision
Growing numbers of children in the UK enter the care system with significant emotional and behavioural problems. The recent increase in numbers of children and the reduction in residential children’s homes have contributed to a growth in foster carer provision. As a result, carers are looking after more vulnerable children. Challenging child behaviours and carers’ lack of skill in dealing with them are the two most common reasons for placement breakdown and foster carers need comprehensive support and additional training to avoid this happening. This article describes carer-specific issues discussed during group leader supervision during a small platform trial of the Incredible Years (IY) parent programme delivered to foster carers in three local authorities in Wales (Bywater et al, 2010). The positive trial results, which are summarised, included reductions in children’s challenging behaviour and carer depression. Issues related to the specific challenges of looking after a fostered child, which were discussed by leaders in preparing for groups and raised by the carers attending, were explored and are presented here. The beneficial effects of the
programme on child behaviour and carer mental health, coupled with carer and leader feedback, confirmed the relevance and effectiveness of the IY parent programme for dedicated foster carer groups.