Life Story Work
Fostering First Ireland’s Life Story Work is built upon the theory of:
“It is difficult to grow up as a psychologically healthy adult if one is denied access to one’s own history.”
In essence, this means that children who do not live with their families of origin, and who may have had multiple moves, often lack information about their personal histories. This can lead to difficulties in their development of identity, self-esteem and sense of ‘self’. When a child or young person loses track of their past it can make them feel unimportant.
FFI provide the children and young people we look after with the practical tools and support to document their time in care. This is achieved through an on-going process of building a substantial record of their time with FFI, including information about their Support Workers, carers, their time in Respite Care, photographs of themselves and other significant people and places, activities they have done, anecdotes, carers/staff members’ thoughts and memories of them, achievements, and schools they may have attended.
More detailed Life Story Work can also be provided which helps children to make sense of their past, gain a balanced understanding of their present and, as an on-going process, plan for a healthy and stable future.
We provide each child with a life story book, which is both a compilation of information and a tool for a child to express their emotions and perceptions.
A major task of life story work is preparing the child for new relationships and to minimise the trauma of transitions.
Every individual is entitled to their own history - it is never too late to do a life story book or too early to start one.
Addressing the needs of every child or young person
Life Story Work further exemplifies our commitment to producing successful outcomes for children and young people looked after by FFI foster carers. It also highlights that when defining outcomes, we don’t limit ourselves to the success at the end of a placement – we measure the opportunities we provide to looked after children and young people for the rest of their lives.
Are you interested in learning more about Life Story work?
Life story work is both a tool, and perhaps more importantly a process, which can be seen as a way of maintaining ‘contact’ with a child’s past, and to enable a child to feel more connected to their family of origin.
By working closely with our experienced Life Story Workers they can encourage significant people to have an input and to provide a more ‘balanced’ picture of a child or young persons background– as opposed to the often ‘one-sided’ record in social services case files, and information that ‘professionals’ may see as being insignificant. This can be so important to a child to learn for example the interests and achievements of their birth parents.
Life story work can therefore be seen as a tool to help children in care understand their past, present and future.
Benefits of Life Story Work
Life story work provides a chronology of the child’s life and:
- Enhances self-esteem and identity formation
- Helps a child share their history with others
- Assists in resolving separation issues
- Identifies connections between the past, the present and the future
- facilitates attachment
- Increase trust for adults
- Helps the child recognise and resolve strong emotions related to past life events
- separates reality from fantasy or magical thinking
- identifies positives as well as negatives about the family of origin
Content © Fostering First Ireland 2013