TAKING THE FIRST STEP TO BECOME A FOSTER CARER
We have asked one of our potential foster carers, Joan, who has nearly completed her fostering assessment to share reflections on her fostering journey so far. Today she is going right back to the start, recalling the motivations that helped her take the first step to become a foster carer. Please feel free to start discussions or ask questions in the comment box at the end. (All names have been changed for confidentiality purposes).
When did you first think of becoming a foster carer?
I first thought of fostering in my twenties, over 20 years ago. I am a qualified social worker and I also worked and managed a residential unit for over 10 years. I mainly worked with large sibling groups, to prepare them for fostering, to the later years when the most vulnerable and challenging young people who were unable to live in a foster family required a nurturing environment with a high level of supervision and attention. The children and young people arrived at our residential needing space to make sense of the trauma and rejection from the ones they loved. I relished working with them and met some amazing and resilient characters, who were both in desperate need to be loved, accepted and gain a sense of belonging. They needed the time and space to grieve and start to learn to build new, trusting, relationships. It was due to these experiences that I knew I would one day be offering my own family home as a foster carer.
Why do you feel foster carers are needed?
As a social worker I experienced what makes a good foster carer and the challenges that it brings. I really believe that a safe family environment offered by a foster carer is vital to nurture and allow fun back into children’s lives. I like the idea that as a foster carer I will be able to create memories for a child, happiness and laughter as well as being there to read a story, ensuring they have friends, activities and an outside world, or to just listen about their day. I have seen how powerful fostering can be as it allows children and young people to begin trusting adults, to feel wanted and accepted, nurtured and loved. I can’t wait to do the same.
When did you decide to take the first step to become a foster carer?
I started talking to my family about fostering 18 months ago. We discussed how wonderful it would be to offer a child to become part of our family, not that we are anything special, but we are a family with enough space both in our house and hearts to offer a child a loving home, for the time thatis required. So, once we had all agreed, the next step was to decide who we wanted to foster for… A local authority or a private agency? What agency would be right for my family? Who would support my own children within this process? It was a big decision to make and we wanted to get it right.
What helped you to finally take the jump and go for it?
It took a while to decide, but then I met LiKa. It was through our discussions regarding the high level of fostering support they would provide for us as a family, including the foster child, that I knew this was right for us. The therapeutic and holistic approach, the passion for young people and wanting to improve the child’s outcomes over a short or long term basis, or even offering a home for the weekend, with a level of expertise was apparent. What I like so far in the assessment process is how LiKa have ensured that my children and husband have been fully informed, trained and involved in the process to ensure it is the right decision for all of us as a family.
What advice would you give people currently considering the idea?
If you feel you can offer a child laughter, consistency, quality time and warmth then go for it! I have seen how fostering can be both challenging but also very rewarding as you get to see a young person grow in your care. It may not ever be the right time… but maybe it’s the perfect time for a child to step into your life?