I began fostering with a local authority after being approached at a local shopping centre by a representative from the local authority. At this point I hadn’t really thought about fostering however, I was ready to sell my hairdressing business after 16 years and knew I wasn’t ready to retire yet. I felt I could do more and still had lots to offer the world and after finding out more about fostering, I had made my choice. I wanted to foster!
I’ve been fostering for over 4 ½ years now and in that time have cared for eight children. My initial intention was to care for children of any age, but my experienced assessing social worker recognised traits and skills that would potentially be beneficial to teenagers and suggested fostering teenagers. I was open to exploring the idea of fostering teenagers and I’m glad to say I haven’t looked back.
After three years with the local authority I decided that I would rather foster with an independent fostering agency who would have the same values as I did and who would be there to offer the support I needed.
I decided to call a friend of mine who I knew had worked in fostering for a number of years, and it turned out that she is the regional director for Capstone Foster Care in the Midlands.
The more I found out about Capstone the more I realised that the family-friendly environment they provide for both carers and, children and young people was what was missing from the local authority.
I began the transfer process almost immediately and it was fluent and smooth, which was helped by the friendliness of my assessing social worker who was approachable and able to support me through the assessment and panel process. In just under 3 months I had become a Capstone foster carer.
As a new foster carer, we need the support there at all times and at Capstone there was always someone there for me from the very start. I could pick up the phone and someone would be able to answer my questions and queries.
I’ve fostered 6 teenagers now with some challenging teenagers and also some great teenaged placements.
I feel that I am continually learning through my fostering journey. I believe a thick skin is needed and would suggest not to take things personally (though it is hard) and don’t be afraid to speak to your support network because the support of those around you; whether it be friends or professionals is invaluable.
Also, the support and guidance of professionals is often there to advise and build/ skill you up rather than to knock you down. It’s important to keep an open mind, to think outside the box and always be mindful of the children’s previous life experiences.
Don’t come into fostering thinking that you alone, you can make a massive difference because it is very much a team effort which is why a supportive, approachable and friendly staff team, like at Capstone, is so important.