Reflections from a prospective foster carer: A big decision

For Foster Care Fortnight 2017, we asked foster carers for their thoughts.

As part of Foster Care Fortnight 2017, we have asked some of our foster carer friends to share about their experiences. This blog is from a prospective foster carer, as she considers whether fostering is possible for her right now.

I have just completed the four day Skills to Foster course with my local authority. It was an intensive four days with a brilliantly diverse group of people, who it will now be strange not to see again – this group know things about me that some of my friends and family don’t even know, as I start to think through what fostering might look like for me.

I can’t remember when I first considered fostering.

I worked in an office five years ago where I heard stories of other people opening their homes to vulnerable children and something stirred in me then. But the timing wasn’t quite right and I knew so little about it. Fast forward five years and I now know a lot more and I’m passionate about fostering, but I still don’t know if the timing is right.

Like any big life decision, I’m not sure if you can ever be totally ready. It’s rare that everything in life lines up so neatly that something as significant as caring for a child would be an ‘easy’ thing to do.

At this stage in the process, I’m overwhelmed by a heart to do something, and although I have a better understanding of what I personally could offer a child, I also recognise the huge weight of responsibility that being a carer would carry and the changes I will need to put in place.

The Skills to Foster training is one of the first steps in the process of assessment and training to become a foster carer.

I had an initial home visit by an assessing social worker where we chatted a little about my experience with children, my motivation to foster, the type of children I might be suited to caring for and had a look at the space available in my home for a child. I was then invited to attend the training days.

The course covered a huge range of topics; why children come into care, identity, attachment and loss, the role of foster carers, providing a safe and caring framework, transitions. There was a lot of information, but also lots of opportunity to discuss different case studies and take part in various exercises that helped me to start thinking about my own situation and how I might help or respond to any children who might be placed with me in the future. Having thought through a lot of the information, these exercises were so useful for me to start translating some of that knowledge into what caring for a child might practically mean.

I was pretty anxious about the course, tentatively pushing the door on fostering but still not knowing whether the timing is right.

I don’t think I’d prepared myself for how tiring the four days would be as I put myself in the shoes of looked after children and considered how I personally could be part of helping them. It is a deeply personal thing to work through the implications of how I live my life and how I use my home.

Each day we were set written tasks to consider at home before the next session, and again, these were really helpful to start applying some of the knowledge to my individual circumstances, but took me quite a bit of time to process!

As a single person, my life is currently able to be relatively flexible at home with very few (if any) household rules, so there are a number of changes I would need to make to ensure my home is a safe place, physically and emotionally, for any child, were I to become a carer. There are also a number of ways of living that I would need to think through more explicitly than I do now, currently living alone.

I’m now giving myself a bit of time to process these training days!

If and when I feel ready to continue the process, the next step will be to complete a formal application and begin Stage One of the assessment, which includes providing six references and having a number of checks – medical, DBS, and my pets being assessed. I know from friends that this stage usually takes a couple of months, but can be longer as it’s reliant on so many external factors.

When this is all completed I can request to begin Stage Two, providing they are happy with my checks and references of course! This stage is made up of weekly home visits over three or four months, where an assessing social worker gets to know me and compiles a report, which is then presented to a Panel who will (hopefully) approve me as a foster carer.

While I know the process might seem long to some people, I think it’s right that each of us who feel we may be able to open our homes and hearts to vulnerable children, whether through fostering or through adoption, have taken the time to really work through each aspect of what this may involve.

This training was excellent, but overwhelming, so it’s right that I use this time to process things well, and then give my time to each stage of the assessment. Foster carers need to be able to wholeheartedly commit to the children they will look after, whether that’s for a couple of nights or a few years, so I need to be fully settled in my decision to move forward.

So right now, I’m going to take some time to think.

If you want to know more about fostering, have a browse of this section of the Home for Good website or call our enquiry line on 0300 001 0995.

Author:
Home for Good


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