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The Healing Hearts Service

What is the Healing Hearts Service?

Healing Hearts is Alpha Plus’s wraparound support service. It is aimed at children and young people with additional needs who require enhanced foster placements. We have our own dedicated Psychotherapist and a Therapeutic Support Worker who is a qualified Therapeutic Life Story Work Practitioner.

At Alpha Plus, we have recognised the ever-changing needs of the children in care and provide structured, safe and nurturing placements for children who benefit from intensive support to help them to heal from trauma. The service also delivers personalised care and support to children with additional needs. Foster Carers receive specialist training and bespoke support to enable them to provide highly specialised care using therapeutic parenting approaches.

The Healing Hearts Service is:

“Therapeutic Parenting Training has given me confidence, which is vital, and reassures me I’m doing the right thing.” (Alpha Plus Foster Carer)

What it offers Foster Carers?

If you are a Foster Carer looking to develop your skills, the Healing Hearts Service will enable you to provide the best care and support to all children but also support you to care for children and young people with more complex needs.

Full training and intensive support is provided to help you develop the specialist skills and knowledge necessary to work with children who may have experienced trauma or have additional needs such as learning or other types of disabilities. This training and support includes: Foster Carer Champions (peer support), face-to-face peer support groups (Reflect & Renew Groups) facilitated by our Psychotherapist, Therapeutic Parenting training, and a nationally recognised Level 2 Introduction to Counselling Skills qualification for those who want to do it.

Our dedicated team will provide 24/7 support, by working with some of the most vulnerable children within a fostering setting, you stand to experience incredible challenges and the greatest rewards that fostering has to offer.

What does this support look like?

Supervising Social Worker

Your Supervising Social worker will be you most important support. They will maintain regular contact with you and you will meet with them frequently. They can offer all the support and guidance you might need. However, on top of this you can also access support from our onsite Psychotherapist and Therapeutic Life Story worker.

Foster Carer Champions

We have a team of experienced Foster Carer Champions who can offer localised peer support to other Foster Carers.

How can Foster Carer Champions support other carers?

  • Be a listening ear.
  • Build a local foster carer community.
  • Arrange local social events & activities.
  • Provide day care or respite (if available).
  • Be a familiar face at Reflect & Renew groups.
  • Share their own experiences and skills to help you work through challenges.

Reflect and Renew Groups

These peer groups are held every 2 months in your local area and are facilitated by Nicky, our Psychotherapist. The group provides an opportunity to gain peer support from other Foster Carers in your locality, to have a catch up, to celebrate our achievements and to ask for advice and guidance from others when we need it. For each meeting Nicky will also organise a chance for learning more about the complexities of caring for a child with trauma. This may be a guest speaker, a group debate, or a short learning session.

Therapeutic Advice & Guidance

Alongside your access our Therapeutic Parenting training, you can be referred for 1 to 1 support with (a Psychotherapist) to support you with the delivery of therapeutic parenting strategies in the home. They can help you to better understand a young person’s behaviours and guide you in developing strategies to support them in their trauma healing.

We may also offer counselling sessions for Foster Carers.

“When coping with difficult behaviours, I use patience, patience, patience with more patience, along with a calm attitude and consistent boundaries and knowing which battles to pick that day.” (From an Alpha Plus Carer)

What it offers Children & Young People

Healing Hearts Art Group

Everyone can benefit from participating in creative and practical art therapy techniques. Children often benefit because it helps them to process their emotions and learn the art of self-soothing. Children and young people are incited to participate in therapeutic art groups during the school holidays. This offers a shared experience where they can explore their lived experience in a safe space allowing them to develop self-soothing skills while exploring topics such as identity and self-worth, how loss impacts us, building friendships, and much more.

Creative Play with Elements of Theraplay

Play is important in building trusting relationships, especially when a child has experienced trauma. Theraplay activities develop trust by focusing on structure and predictability, as well as chants, songs, and rhythmic movement, which can support regulation. Activities which focus on engagement and nurture will help them feel cared for and special.

Theraplay activities can be provided via direct work with the child and foster carer. But this support can also be provided through consultation with the foster carer. This is helpful when the child is already engaging with a variety of professionals.

Therapeutic Life story Work (TLSW)

For some children and young people who have experienced trauma, engaging in TLSW provides a healing process. The aim is to help children develop a coherent and accurate story of their lives. It is an approach that offers deep reflective work with a Life Story Therapist, the child and their carer, through direct work which allows them to explore the child’s history together, and the connection this has to their current difficulties.

TLSW enhances the relationship between the child and their carer and strengthens their attachment, thus providing a valuable opportunity to enjoy a sense of safety, comfort, and security that they may not have previously experienced.

Therapeutic input for Children & Young People

Following referral and with the agreement of the responsible local authority, our Psychotherapist offers individual sessions to some of our children & young people; sessions include talking and creative therapies.

“Positive reinforcement made me feel cared for and valued; you don’t forget how people make you feel.” (From a Fostered Child)

What it offers Local Authorities

We are aware that due to high demand and limited availability, Local Authorities can find it difficult to access the right level of therapeutic support for children with the most complex needs.

We offer a specialist wraparound service for children with complex needs, our highly skilled foster carers are at the heart of utilising a trauma sensitive, high structure, high nurture therapeutic parenting approach. Our foster carers benefit from reflective supervision and readily available peer support from experienced Foster Carer Champions.

Our foster carers are very experienced and have received specialist training to help them to understand how children’s previous experiences may affect them now and/or in the future. Having this understanding helps them to understand and provide appropriate care. Our foster carers will work with children to help them make sense of their past, develop resilience, regulate their emotions, and move forward in a positive way. If children and young people need any specialist support, the Healing Hearts team can put this in place for them.

The Healing Hearts Team will work in conjunction with you to identify any unmet needs; children will receive a timely response, which caters for their individual needs. By accessing specialist support from within our service, it is likely that children will feel more comfortable and accepting of therapeutic input as they will feel secure with their foster carer and already have a relationship with members of our team.

Find out if you could be a foster carer
Find out if you could be a foster carer
In a few simple questions, you’ll know if you’re suitable to apply to become a foster carer.