Is this something you’ve thought about but not sure if you’ve got what it takes? Why not read what one of our Foster Carers, Amy, has to say and then maybe make that first move to find out more?
We spoke at length with Amy about her experiences and in particular why she began to foster. Amy explained “Once my own family had grown up, I realised I still had a lot to give. I loved being a mum and being around teenagers so I began to think about fostering. It didn’t happen overnight and there was a lot of preparation work before my first foster placement came to me.”
Now, 7 years later, Amy is still fostering and enjoying every minute of it. She has one young person she looks after full time and also offers regular respite for other foster carers. Over the years she has had about 12 children and young people in her care and has found she much prefers the commitment of long-term fostering rather than short term or emergency care which have their own challenges.
Amy points out that one of the first things you must do when you first take on a child or young person is to make them feel at home, finding out what their favourite toys/possessions are, what they enjoy eating and what they like to watch on TV. “We all have our favourites and knowing these are still available can make a big difference to how quickly a child starts to feel at home.”
“Lovely having young people around the house”
Amy told us how lovely it was having young people around the house “They have their own energy and enthusiasm and it’s great keeping up to date with things and going to the pictures, for example. It’s a lot of fun.”
We asked Amy about what support she receives and she told us that she has regular meetings with social workers and regular training for issues such as safeguarding. “A good relationship with social workers is essential for they have the knowledge of the child and can offer lots of advice and guidance if I’m unsure about anything.”
“Part of the family”
As we spoke to Amy we noticed how she always referred to “we” not “I” or “us and them” which shows how close a family relationship she has with her young charges. Amy emphasised just how much her own wider family also had accepted and welcomed the children and young people into the family circle with her foster children being asked to be bridesmaids at weddings on more than one occasion. “They really are part of the wider, extended family and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
How long Amy will continue to foster is not something she has a set date on – “until they are ready to leave care but, as being part of our family, they can stay as long as they need to”.
“Positive and rewarding” “
In summing up, Amy described her experience of fostering as “Positive and rewarding. I thought I wouldn’t be able to reach out and help, but I was wrong. Hearing the words “I love you” for the first time is a moment I will always remember. I am making a difference and I am loving every minute of it. But it’s not for the faint hearted; there are challenges and hurdles to negotiate but with care, patience and the support of professionals it’s achievable and, most importantly, seeing the children and young people thrive and be happy is so satisfying.”
If you are interested in finding out more about being a foster carer then contact firstname.lastname@example.orgREPORT A POTHOLE