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Supporting online safety in fostering

Our successful partnership with Nominet and Parentzone enabled us to bring to life a project focussed on digital safety for foster children in our care. The project was undertaken with the ethos of St Christopher’s Philosophy of Care which sees young people as being the experts in their own lives.

The aim was to elevate young people’s voices to help influence our fostering service’s impact on their digital safety, to listen to them, learn from them, and be led by them.  At St Christopher’s we also wanted to take this further and update our policies in line with the insightful results and ensure foster children were at the heart of these policies too.

For those caring for these young people we wanted to empower them and help to support and educate as needed regarding the ever changing digital landscape.

Our approach was to undertake a number of activities in order to glean the information we need to create a framework of support. This ranged from group consultations, one to one surgeries, online sessions, age appropriate and targeted engaging activities as well as various quizzes and surveys.

A care experienced critical friend was also sought to assist with the workshops. This enabled the children to have access to an adult that had been in care as a child, resided in foster care, and has worked with children in care professionally.

One of the crucial findings was discovering how intelligent children and young people are when it comes to the digital world. This not only makes them experts in this field, but they are the key for us as adults to help recognise how we can make the digital world safer for them.

Another lead finding was the importance that the digital world plays in a child’s and young person’s life, with their peers and how they define themselves as an individual. It is crucial we recognise the value of what we may need to restrict access to or remove and impact this may have. With this knowledge foster parents can make such actions a little less distressing for the young people and look at other therapeutic ways to achieve positive outcomes.

Following on from the success of the project and all the valuable feedback received from foster parents and foster children, St Christopher’s has been busy creating a resource pack to share and educate to spread the knowledge wider. Request to join our digital safety mailing list by emailing communicationsteam@stchris.org.uk for a copy of forthcoming findings and resources.