Support care
How family placement can keep children and families together
Edited by Helen Cosis Brown, Ena Fry and Joy Howard

This detailed tour of Support Care evidences how it can be central to preventative work with children and families: what it is, how it works, who benefits and why the Government is currently looking to encourage the establishment of the principles and practice of Support Care throughout the UK.

"Here is a family support service that parents value, that provides real and practical help that foster carers are enthusiastically providing and that has been developed because of the belief and commitment of a few individuals. The accounts in this book remind us that innovative, useful and respectful services can be developed by resourceful, persistent and committed staff. Each of the schemes is slightly different, but they all share a belief in the value of providing parents under stress with a series of short breaks." Robert Tapsfield, Executive Director, Fostering Network.

The chapters about practice - the perspectives of a parent, carers and practitioners - are located between one at the beginning of the book on the policy and legislative context and one a chapter at the end about a research study.

Support Care is not a uniform provision, and each chapter details the individuality of a range of schemes developed and run in five local authorities. Some are called Neighbourhood Care, Part-time Fostering or Short Breaks rather than Support Care. The book collects together 'stories' about the development and realisation of the schemes from the perspectives of parents, carers, practitioners, policy makers and researchers. They all describe how a 'lifeline' at a difficult time for a family can prevent a family breakdown, which might result in children being separated from their families.

The stories are all about stress, and conflict between parents and children for a variety of underlying reasons… families who don't want to be told what to do, and want to remain in control of their lives, who feel they have a right to get the help they are asking for, which is, over and over again, just 'a break'. All have in common the need for a low-key supportive intervention to help out during a particularly difficult time.

These interventions succeeded when the people involved were committed to open, warm and clear relationships, underpinned by integrity. The word that comes through most powerfully - not fashionable in social work - is 'kindness'. When the carers and social workers were experienced as 'kind', that was probably one of the most important factors that contributed to the positive outcomes.

Paperback. 144 pages. 978-1-903855-74-4. Published 2005. £19.95.


Preface Robert Tapsfield, Executive Director, Fostering Network
Introduction Helen Cosis Brown, Curriculum Leader for Social Work, Middlesex University, Ena Fry, Fostering Network, & Joy Howard, Fostering Network
Support care: the wider context Ena Fry
Partnership with parents: making it happen Joy HowardStaying in control Joanne Bell, Parent promoter of Support Care
Giving parents a lifeline Janet Exley, Foster Carer
Adoption under pressure Tim Earnshaw, Social Worker, Jonathan Helbert, Adoption and Fostering Unit, Bradford & Joy Howard
Keeping it local Sue Smith, Birmingham Neighbourhood Care Service
Have you tried this Wanda Collins, Carer, Birmingham Neighbourhood Care Service
A stitch in time Pat Bugajski, Social worker, Stockport Support Care project
Maintaining attachments: part-time fostering as a preventative intervention model Jacqui Westwood, Telford and Wrekin Family Placement Team
A positive response Isabelle Boddy, Chairman Hull Women's Aid, & John Plant, Principal Child Care Manager, Hull City Council
Investing to save? June Statham, Thomas Coram Research Unit, University of London & Margaret Greenfields, Buckingham Chilterns University College.


Dr Helen Cosis Brown
is Curriculum Leader for Social Work at Middlesex University.

Ena Fry has been development worker for the Fostering Network's Young People's Project since 1990. She is a member of Department of Education and Skills' Children's Task Force. She was a contributor to The RHP Companion to Foster Care (Ed. Ann Wheal, RHP 2005) and The RHP Companion to Leaving Care (ed. Ann Wheal, RHP 2002).

Joy Howard developed and coordinated Support Care in Bradford from 1996 - 2005. She is currently consultant to the Fostering Network and is in the process of setting up a Support Care National Network. She was a contributor to Working with Parents (Ed. Ann Wheal, RHP 2000) and to The RHP Companion to Foster Care (Ed. Ann Wheal 2005)


"This book is about declaring that "innovation and creativity rules", take risks, and give people the space to think. I liked it." Community Care.

"The recently renewed government emphasis in the UK on family supports has inspired major changes in the provision of social services for children and youths and their families. In this short volume, the co-editors and contributors describe in extensive and rich detail their 'stories' in developing, guiding and evaluating support care services in five local authorities. The book is aimed primarily at practitioners in agency settings that offer services to children and families. Useful insights and practical suggestions that will enhance their work and/or reinforce their decisions and strategies in serving children and families." Adoption and Fostering.