This site is optimised for modern browsers. For the best experience, please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.

Case study: Jackie’s Story: taking part in the Reflective Fostering Study

“Of all the training I have undertaken, this has had the most impact on my life” - Jackie’s experience as a carer involved in research

The National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) has funded the Reflective Fostering Study, which explores the impact of the Reflective Fostering Programme (RFP) on children aged 4-13 in care. The programme was developed by the Anna Freud Centre in collaboration with The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) due to the need to improve outcomes for children in care by providing better support to their carers. The study was recruited nationally, with sites across the East Midlands. 

Kinship care is when a child lives with a relative or close family friend, usually because their parents are not able to care for them. According to The Kinship Care Charity, there are more than 180,000 children in kinship care across the UK. 

Jackie Tripp tells us about her experience in the Reflective Fostering Study as a kinship carer.

How did you get involved in the study?

Jackie became a kinship carer for two young boys, unprepared for the emotional journey ahead. Within the first 18 months of caring for the boys, life was very challenging, where she was constantly looking for ways to make life better for the children as well as herself. 

Jackie received an offer to be part of the RFP, which included attending ten 3-hour face to face sessions. When choosing to embark on the programme Jackie states ‘maybe if I go on this journey, I can share something that might help someone else.’ RFP was created for any carer who feels like they need support. 

How do you feel the study experience has impacted you? 

Jackie states that her ‘whole life [she] has been supporting other people’ and the RFP has made her realise that she needs to put herself in a positive position in order to give the positivity and support that the children need most. ‘It has also given me coping strategies and enabled me to examine who I am and what I am bringing to this situation.’

Given Jackie’s experience she describes that being part of the study has provided her with skills and knowledge which she can pass onto other Kinship carers who, like her until this point, may have been struggling. She explains, ‘I have cared for four years and completed a lot of courses, but I have not come across anything else like RFP that has transformed me and my coping mechanisms. My understanding of the care I give and the care that needs to be given. Kinship carers are part of a group of carers that need support.’ 

‘The needs of the children are not any less nor any easier now four years later, although I am coping in a different way. What needs to change is the carers attitude which RFP has helped me to realise.’ 

What advice would you give to other carers thinking of joining the study?

‘I would absolutely recommend the course. Of all the training I have undertaken, this has had the most impact on my life that I have carried with me. As carers, we are dealing with massive trauma, and trying to stay in a positive emotional place can take everything you've got. This course has given me the ability to dig deep. We have learned strategies to deal with dangerous or difficult situations. There are still challenges, but we are not giving up. Prior to the course, I’m not sure I would have had the strength to carry on, but now I understand that we need to embrace anything that will have a positive impact on us.’

Click here to find out more about the Reflective Fostering Study.