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Meet Marina and Paul

Marina and Paul decided to foster after their own children left home and while they enjoyed the new freedom that that gave them, they felt it was the right time to open their home up to fostering.

Marina and Paul

My name is Marina, I live with my husband Paul, we are both in our fifties and were approved as foster parents in December 2018 with Capstone.

We decided to foster after my own children left home and while we enjoyed the new freedom that that gave us and we felt it was the right time to open our home up to fostering. We enjoy having children around, we’d always said once the children had 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 as we were keen to make a difference to children who come into care.

I worked as a childminder and I feel I’ve gained valuable experience supporting children through all their developmental stages. I’ve also supported my three birth children with the help of Paul into adulthood and I’m proud of what they have achieved.

Paul was a long-distance lorry driver and has been for over 29 years. Paul has always wanted to work closer to home and has recently given up his role to foster full time.

As a couple we spoke about the possibility of fostering for a couple of years, we felt it was something we wanted to start looking into more and decided to start the process by contacting Capstone Foster Care. I contacted our local office in Heywood, Greater Manchester and spoke to a lady called Carole and an initial home visit was arranged.

Carole came to our house to find out more about me, Paul, the rest of the family and to have a general chat about fostering. She also took the time to see our home set up and see how it would fit into fostering. She gathered information on our background particularly around our work with children. Carole also answered all our initial questions in detail, and she was able to tell us about the approval process and give us a realistic overview of what being a foster parent involves.

As part of the recruitment process Carole also arranged for both me and Paul to attend a three-day course called Skills to Foster. Skills to Foster is a pre- approval training course which is a comprehensive course offered to all applicants who are on their journey to becoming a foster carer. The course gave us the self-confidence to believe that we could fulfil the foster carer role and provided us as prospective foster carers with information about the skills and abilities needed to begin a career in fostering.

It was obvious to us that the training highlighted the inevitable challenges we could face but also the rewarding side of fostering, so we decided to proceed with the assessment process and within six months we were approved as foster carers. Due to us having three bedrooms available for fostering and my childcare experience we were approved for three children aged from 0-18 years old.

During our approval process Capstone worked closely with us to build up a matching profile to help them understand the children that would suitable for our home. We ideally wanted the children to be a similar age to our young grandchildren.

After we became approved as foster parents, we had a meeting with the placement officer from Capstone and we began creating our carer profiles. Our carer profiles are a child friendly book with pictures of the family, the home, local attractions and the bedroom available for fostering.

The placement officer and our supervising social worker were completely involved with our matching criteria and would only call with suitable matches of the children that would work as our first placement. Within just five days we welcomed three new little faces (a sibling group) into our home. We were so excited as a family to welcome the children although a little nervous at first as to how the girls would settle in as they would be coming into care around Christmas.

The three little girls came to live with us mid-December 2018 and 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. I was saddened to see them dismiss Christmas, but I am looking forward to Christmas years to come.

The support we receive from Capstone has been consistent throughout our journey. It has been wonderful to see the children blossom in the short time they have been with us and we are completely at ease with how they are setting in and growing with confidence. Our supervising social worker is always there at the end of the phone. All the Capstone social workers are – if there’s any problems, I know they’ll be there. There’s always someone there to give advice and to speak to.

I’ve also been buddied up with another foster parent who’s been fostering for 9 years as part of Capstone’s peer mentor scheme and she keeps in touch with me weekly which is great. The training we have already undertaken has been outstanding and we have also both completed the new Fostering Changes twelve-week training course.

Fostering Changes provided us both with practical advice and training for fostering in order to develop our skills in managing difficult and challenging child behaviour and forming positive relationships with our foster children and in turn improving their long-term outcomes. We have both thoroughly enjoyed the programme and it has really helped us to build on our existing skills.

I would not hesitate to recommend Capstone Foster Care to anyone who is looking to make a difference to a child’s life, just take the leap and start the fostering process.

Read Marina’s advice about what to expect in the first year of fostering.

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