Anne and Stephen
There is nothing to lose by applying to become a foster carer. There is a lot to be gained if you have an interest in providing care for a child. There are many different options for fostering to suit your circumstances. We feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to be an advocate for children in care and hope more people get involved to help children in need.
My mother cared for a teenage boy from a friends family for 6 years. He was my eldest brothers best friend and became a member of the family, it was an extremely positive experience.. I suffered from fertility issues leaving our potential to have our own children as low. My positive experience of my mother being a carer made the proposition of adopting or fostering a realistic opportunity to bring children into our lives.
Fortuitously we had children of our own but the seed of helping other children was sown. Once our own children became old enough I decided on a career change and opted for Foster Caring.
The application and assessment process was protracted; for us it was almost a year. There is no way to sugar coat this, the questions are intrusive. You can take an aloof and obtrusive position to the lines of questioning but we opted to embrace the process which also helped us to understand our own weakness to become effective foster carers.
The pre-panel training helped to build confidence towards the day. On the main it consolidate 12 months of assessment and prepared us for what questions we might be asked as well as providing us the understanding of the panel process and the personnel on the panel.
The panel was a humbling experience. You are not quite laid bare but you want to impress on the members your suitability to care for children. We felt a mix of excitement and anxiety as this was the final hurdle of the 12 months assessment process. The feeling after being accepted by the panel was exhilarating to be given the opportunity to care for children in need.
The support network of staff and carers is second to none. The staff take time to meet your needs and concerns they understand that the needs of the individual are vital to a successful team focused on the task of providing care.
We have grown in confidence as time has progressed. This is due to a combination of training and experience of being an advocate for children. We started with respite placements and progressed to short term. Getting in a good routine is key, treating everyone as individuals and remaining flexible helps to ensure all family members feel wanted and cared for. We currently have 2 children under the age of 4, their excitement of animals, new experiences and Christmas has rejuvenated and enriched our own lives.
Training and education are key to developing skills as foster carers but these skill sets crossover to other areas of your life and work. For example the principle of resolving conflict or managing difficult behaviour can but put to good use in any work place or social situation. By approaching the training modules with an open mind you can equip yourself with tools to better manage your own life.
Anne & Stephen