Sally & Chris
I am Sally, married to Chris. We have three grown children of our own and prior to fostering for Capstone we had fostered many years ago for a local authority.
I worked with Premier, before it became Capstone, not as a foster carer but as a nurse trying to place a child with very complex care needs into a family home as going to their own home was not an option. I was struck by the care, compassion and openness of the Premier team, determined to make the right placement for the child and also by the quality and dedication of the foster family that was eventually chosen. Some years later we as a family we wanted to return to foster caring and I immediately thought back to my experience with Premier and gave them a call.
From the outset we were made to feel welcome and after an initial visit and attendance at the skills for fostering course, we began the in-depth assessment process to assess our suitability but also for us to be sure that fostering was for us. This assessment leaves no stone unturned and rightly questions your values and experiences. The process is a lengthy one, for all the right reasons. Once we had been approved, we waited a few months before we had any children in placement. This was in part due to our geographical location but also because matching children to placements is something Capstone take seriously.
Despite the rigorous matching process our first placement was extremely challenging and rocked our family to the core. The repercussions are still felt even five years on. Our supervising social worker has been with us all the way and without her support and straight talking I’m not sure we would have continued to foster. Although the assessment process is thorough, nothing can really prepare you for a placement breakdown but it is something you need to prepare for as best you can because it is a real possibility.
Despite this rocky start we have continued to foster and have had our current young man in placement for five years. To see him grow, develop and thrive as he has in our care makes all the challenges worth while. He is determined to do well and tries hard at everything he does. He has lots of friends and is valued amongst his peers. He is confident and sociable, a joy.
The phrase two steps forward, three steps back may never have been more apt but the rewards really do make it all worth while. Remembering to keep the child’s interests central to decisions made and keeping this in focus when advocating for the children in your care is key.
Our birth children have helped and contributed in this journey and say they appreciate what they have had compared with the difficulties some children and young people face in their lives. They have a new depth of compassion and understanding for others.
The support we have been given by our supervising social worker and by Capstone has been second to none and essential in the world of fostering. There is great opportunities for learning with regular quality training sessions and networking opportunities with other foster carers. There are also many social events offering support and friendships between carers to develop.