Jim Rose has written How Nurture Protects Children: Nurture and Narrative in Work with Children, Young People and Families as a response (or anti-response) to a bureaucratic system that is clogging our care services for children. By using information gleaned through research, he investigates the new fabric of legislation and restriction and comes to the conclusion that despite the numerous regulatory and health and safety controls which we have to pick our way through, the majority of children who spend some or all of their lives within the care system would be much better off if we could use instinct and nurture them through the trials and tribulations of being raised by someone other than family. He mentions how language influences the attitudes and expectations of carers and children.
He also expounds the importance of the nurture group method:
Doing well at school is an important factor for the healthy development of children and young people.
For over thirty years nurture groups have been demonstrating that with the right help children who present emotional and behavioural difficulties can be successfully included in mainstream school. Nurture groups provide a safe and nurturing learning environment where each child is valued, understood and has their emotional needs met appropriately. They offer an experience of adults through which trust and confidence are built and learning begins to take place.
The Nurture Group Network is the national umbrella organisation for nurture groups and supports the work carried out in schools across the United Kingdom. There are now around 1,000 groups, not only in primary schools but at secondary level as well and many children, parents and teachers bear witness to the powerful impact that nurture groups have had on their lives.
He explains by use of case studies and personal experiences how nurture leans towards a child rather than away. He makes a stand for continuity in care and expresses the opinion that during school years in particular, children need to feel nourished, both physically and emotionally.
It is a known fact that children who are in the care system for any length of time are liable to re-homing and in some instances this can happen in excess of twenty times. Jim Rose underscores the impact that foster carers can have on individual children. He acknowledges that the majority do excellent work and part of that is to encourage the child to make a positive relationship with the foster family so that the next move either to an adoptive family or to another foster home will become easier.
This is a salutary book and one which I would recommend to all potential foster carers.
For more information about nurture groups, see www.nurturegroups.org.