22/05/2018 - Permalink

What’s stopping you? You can fit fostering around your family!

Related topics: Children's services / Partner organisations

Shropshire case study

What’s stopping you? You can fit fostering around your family!

It’s Foster Care Fortnight (14 – 27 May) and Shropshire is appealing for more people from all walks of life to come forward to meet the needs of local children.

Fostering - Foster Care Fortnight 2018

Fostering – Foster Care Fortnight 2018

One of the common barriers to potential foster carers is a concern over the effect it will have on their own children… but as Anne from Whitchurch explains, the impact of having other children in your home can actually be extremely beneficial. 

“I’d always wanted to foster, and my husband did too – in fact his best friend when he was younger was fostered so he knew what it involved. But as a working mum with three children of my own, I had to ensure the time was right.

“I remember ringing years before we were accepted and being informed that we needed a spare room. The foster care team pointed out that it was important for our own children to retain their own space as it could cause resentment.

“We went away, thought about it and realised that we had to have our own children fully on board if this was going to work.”

They then waited until they had that spare room and decided to apply again.

“We talked it through as a family and decided to apply. At first we had quite definite ideas about the ages of the children we wanted to foster.  Initially, although were approved as carers, we did respite during holidays and weekends, so just short periods of time.

“The ages of the children ranged from under five to teenage, and you soon realise that their ages don’t matter:  it is a child or young person and they all need that time and support.

“We now have a long-term placement of two siblings and couldn’t be happier.”

Fitting fostering around your family 

So how has the rest of the family dealt with the decision to foster?

Says Anne:

“One of the most positive things we have got from this is the impact it has had on our children.

“Watching them welcome these young people into our home and make them part of our family has made me very proud of the young adults they have become. And it works both ways. The whole family is inspired by the children we foster, many of whom are dealing with some very difficult circumstances in a very mature way. We as a family can safely say we are proud to foster.

“Looking back, many friends were very vocal in trying to deter us because we had our own children – whilst others were really supportive. Now they have seen what it’s done for us, a couple of them are fostering themselves!”

Fitting in your work with fostering 

One of the biggest misconceptions around foster caring is that you can’t combine it with holding down a full or part time job. But, as Anne says, that’s not true.

“I’m teaching part time, but far from being a hindrance I think it has actually helped. I still have that ‘adult time’ to myself and I think that is important for you and the children you foster as you then value the time you have and make sure you use it to best effect.

“The application and training process can sound daunting, but that too worked out well for me. A couple of friends were also on the course, and that helped, but everyone was supportive and it was great to be able to pick up the phone and speak to someone if I had a problem.”

Tapping into support 

Another cause for concern amongst many prospective carers is worrying “will I cope?” As Anne says, the support on hand from Shropshire and other foster carers means that you’re never alone.

“There’s a ‘buddy scheme’ that puts you in touch with an experienced foster carer.  My ‘buddies’ were wonderful – a lovely couple who let me know they were there when I needed them.

“The bond and trust you build up with your social worker is also important. Right from the start it has felt like a friend coming for a coffee. Always in touch, always ready to deal with any concerns. And that support goes from right from when you apply to each new placement. There’s a whole network of social workers, other foster carers and – very importantly – your family who are there for you.”

Anne’s advice for potential carers 

“If I were to talking to anyone thinking of fostering I would say ‘just apply and find out more’. My top tip is to remain open and open-minded. Listen to what your family thinks and make them very much part of the process, and also be open with the children who come to live with you and be prepared to listen to them.

“Finally, enjoy what you’re doing. When it comes down to it, the children and young people you are helping are just that – children and young people. Yes, some may have issues and it is not all hearts and flowers… but it can be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things.”

If you would like to know more about fostering, please call 0800 783 8798 or visit http://www.shropshirefostering.co.uk/ – you’ll never know until you make that call. Don’t think “I can’t foster” – think ‘I can’.”