There may be unknowns such as what to expect, which placements you’ll likely foster and how your support network will work.
However, through our guide and case study, find advice on how to be a foster parent, the challenges of fostering and tips for foster parents in their first year.
A lot of people who are interested in fostering may be wondering, what is it like to be a foster parent? Why do people become foster parents? And what is it like to foster to a child?
To help answer questions for first-time fosterers, one of our foster carers, Marina, has kindly offered to speak to us regarding her fostering experiences.
Marina is currently in her first year of fostering and has been fostering for the last 10 months. With three girls to look after with her husband, Marina has fully adapted to life as a foster parent – having had merely 5 days in between being approved and her first foster care placement.
Having had their own three children fly the nest already, Marina and her husband are now in their fifties and looking to change the lives of young people in need. “We enjoy having children around. We always said once the children have grown up and left, we’d have some time to ourselves and then go on to foster. Fostering has always been on the horizon for us.”
Through our interview with Marina, she highlighted some important foster parents’ advice that would be beneficial for foster carers in their first year:
Marina and her husband haven’t been without a placement for long. After just five days from being approved, the three girls entered their lives mid-December 2018 – “I thought I was prepared for Christmas, turns out, I was not! We bought the girls Christmas presents, laid them out under the tree and on Christmas morning, they walked straight past them and went to have breakfast. They didn’t understand or know what the connotations of Christmas presents were – they’d never experienced it before. They were used to having nothing.”
Creating an environment where your foster children can feel comfortable and safe is important but can also take time. Regarding creating that important connection with foster children, Marina’s advice was: “Get to know the child – don’t smother them, stand back and let them come to you for comfort. Me and my husband want the children we have to fit in with our grandchildren’s ages – it would be nice to have that age group so they always have a friend around to speak to.”
When asked if she’d picked up any useful behaviour management techniques, she replied: “The older sibling (4 years old) had a tendency to control the younger sibling (2 years old). This habit took around 5 months to break – but the 4-year-old wouldn’t let her sister do anything – get dressed, have a cuddle, speak. It took a while to control this – but by sitting with her and encouraging her not to bully her sister, this behaviour was controlled.”
In terms of support, Marina speaks of her experience with the support she’s received from Capstone Foster Care: “They’re always there at the end of the phone. All the Capstone social workers are – if there are any problems, I know they’ll be there. There’s always someone there to give advice and to speak to. I’ve also been put in touch with another foster parent who’s been fostering for 9 years – she keeps in touch with me which is great.”
Marina and her husband have said they’ll continue to foster for as long as they can. “Seeing how the children have developed is definitely the best part about fostering. Especially the older child – she came from neglect, was in nappies and couldn’t speak – although she’s still 18 months behind, her communication is a lot better than it used to be. She used to tantrum as she couldn’t understand, but now her communication has improved enormously.”
Being able to see the changes and development of young people’s lives in your care is one of the most rewarding aspects of fostering, and why many choose to do it as a career. Are you interested in becoming a foster carer? Learn more about the fostering requirements and get in touch with a member of our friendly team today for more foster parent advice and support.