Lin and Richard have been fostering for 16 years and enjoy caring for parent and child placements. Read their story and find out you can make a difference to young people's lives too.
Our friends fostered, and they suggested that we should think about becoming carers. We were not sure we had the skills to be carers, but after discussions with D from the agency we applied to foster. We went through the assessment process and then attended panel who after reading our report and meeting us agreed to our approval in 2004. During our assessment we also attended training which helped prepare us for our journey as foster carers.
Our children were grown up and lived independently, they are now married and have families of their own, they were and still are supportive of us as foster carers.
When people find out that Richard and I foster, they want to know so much, what it involves and how we even made the decision of becoming foster carers. We tell them truthfully that fostering can be challenging but also very rewarding to know you are making a difference to a child or young person. We are always happy to share Capstone’s contact details with them if asked.
We have been fostering for quite a while, which means we have had a variety of placements, 22 in total, not counting respite cover we have provided for other carers. Each one has been different, and we have learnt to adapt to their individual needs to ensure we are providing the best care for them. We have had 16 parent and child placements, which is a specialist role we enjoy whereby a parent is placed with their child in our home and we work as part of a team to help the parents manage the needs of their babies. Nine of these parents have gone home with their baby.
We cared for teenage boys during our first years of fostering, then in 2008 we had an emergency placement for a teenage girl who was 3 months pregnant, we supported her through her pregnancy, encouraging her to build on her life skills and facilitating hospital appointments and contacts. I was with L when she had her baby, a little boy in May 2009, L was 16 the following July. L and J lived with us until she was 18 and moved to independence, we helped her move into her flat. J is 11 now, his sister K is 8, we continue to support L, we have a close and loving relationship. J comes to stay at weekends and some part of the school holidays, K comes for day visits.
A lot of people presume that parent and child placements will always be a mum and her child, but we have had a dad and child stay with us before. Each placement is different and a lot of them are brilliant and really appreciate the support we provide, but sometimes you can get some difficult ones which is understandable as they may be feeling scared or frustrated that they are having a parenting assessment. Although there have been a few tough placements, we both still enjoy fostering and are happy we made the decision to go ahead.
If anyone reading this is considering fostering, you must be committed and be prepared to fully take on the role because it can be very demanding especially in the first weeks of a parent and child placement, when the parent has to be supervised closely. In the end it is worth it because you can see the difference you make.
Richard and I are in our early 70s and we now prefer to have parent and child placements because we can offer a calm and nurturing environment. Sometimes the parent placed with us has not had a good childhood, we nurture them and allow them to experience a caring home. We encourage them, promote the bonding and attachment between them and their baby and help them develop their life skills. A lot of the time, these young people have not had someone cheering them on from the side lines, and as their foster carers, it is our role to do that.
The hardest part is saying goodbye as you do get emotionally attached, it is something that cannot be helped, but as a foster carer you receive good support to help with endings. Some of the young people do keep in touch, which is lovely, but we understand that they came to us looking for support and we accomplished that in the time they were with us. We have helped them move on into the next chapter of their life and that is something that Richard and I have found so worthwhile.
Fostering is such a rewarding career and it is what we expected it to be, but there have been a few surprises and challenges along the way. We have learned to keep calm and not to overreact. Having empathy and putting ourselves in the young person’s shoes has really helped with understanding different situations and behaviours. A sense of humour is a must!
I do get nervous before every new placement, but I remind myself that I am in my own home, they are coming to a new home, they will be very anxious and more nervous than me!
Capstone have supported us well throughout our fostering journey, we have regular carers support groups and excellent training courses. Capstone supports us to be the best carers we can be. We would recommend Capstone to anyone who is considering fostering.
We currently have some friends who are waiting to attend their panel meeting so they can become approved carers. We are looking forward to having them join us and become fellow Capstone foster carers!