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Fostering a child with Focus Foster Care – an interview with our foster carer, W

If you are interested in becoming a foster carer there is a wealth of information about fostering available online. You can find information from fostering organisations like Barnado’s and The Fostering Network and also talk to your Local Authority or the team at an independent fostering agency near you. Social workers and fostering organisations and charities can provide you with lots of information on fostering but the best way to get an insight into what life as a foster carer is really like is to talk to a foster carer. Each child is different and no fostering experience is the same, but speaking to someone who is currently fostering children or has done in the past will help you form a more realistic picture of what a career in fostering is like. One of our foster carers, W, has been fostering for six and a half years and has shared her experiences and advice for new foster carers in this post. If you are considering a career in fostering, we hope this interview is useful and informative.

An interview with a Focus Foster Care foster carer, W.

W is a single foster carer and has four biological children. Two of her children still live at home and are a big part of W’s fostering journey. W has been fostering children for six and a half years, it is always interesting to know why someone decides to become a foster parent and their reasons behind this career choice. “I became a foster carer mostly because I wanted to help children, I feel each and everyone of them are so important. I have spare bedrooms, it just feels like the right thing to do”. To be eligible to foster a child you must have a atleast one spare bedroom (as well as a few other essential requirements) but a desire and drive to help vulnerable children is paramount.

Fostering is often described as both challenging and rewarding. It is a ‘job’ like no other and caring for children from traumatic, vulnerable family backgrounds can be difficult at times, but there are lots of positives too. “It’s so rewarding when you can see the positive change in the children. Sometimes it can just be little things that wouldn’t mean much to anyone: sitting at a table to eat a family meal, being proud of themselves due to being clean and nicely dressed , or being able to sleep with the light switched off, for example. These little things can be so rewarding, looking back and noticing the many positive changes they have made since they moved in, it melts my heart”. Foster carers are encouraged to love the children in their care like one of their own, W notes that this can sometimes cause challenges when communicating with social workers about what action is best for the child. ” I think some of the challenges I’ve faced , could be not always agreeing with the social workers but having to go along with it anyway. Sometimes you get so attached to the children, you feel as though they are your own, and then taking advice regarding them that you don’t agree with can be hard”.

I feel fostering brings lots of emotions, the children which have come into our home have all been so different in so many ways. However, I feel what they are all in need of is respect, understanding, consistency and love .”

Raising your own biological children and caring for looked after children are very different experiences. Children in foster care require the same love as any other child but the support and guidance they need may vary significantly. “Parenting looked after children is very different to parenting your own. Usually your own children have been loved and nurtured from birth, unlike looked after children, who can often have many behavioural difficulties due to no fault of their own. Looked after children need a lot more guidance”.

When thinking about life as a foster carer, it is expected new foster parents will feel apprehensive about their first placement. From wondering how to prepare for the child’s arrival, to knowing what to do to help them ease into life as a part of your family, there is a lot to think about. W shares what she does when a new child joins her family – “When a child first moves in, we usually get some information (not always a lot) and I’ll talk to my birth children to explain as much as I feel they need to know. We keep a calm warm environment and take little steps. We allow the child time to themselves, but I also advise them that I’m always available if needed”.

Knowing what to expect can help put a new foster carers mind at ease; new experiences always feel less daunting when we are prepared and have an idea of what lies ahead. The same can be said for fostering a child. Although you can never be fully prepared and will not know what life with your next placement is going to be like until they are living with you, you can learn from others who have been through similar situations before. ” I think what I didn’t expect was the meetings, courses, contact , working with so many different professionals, although I was made aware at the beginning, and I do enjoy these, it’s something you have to get used to”. As a foster carer you will not just be working along side social workers, there are many people involved in the care of the child and W explains how she has had to get used to having relationships with the children’s birth families. ” I feel it’s very important, where possible, to have a good relationship with the birth families “.

Just like a more conventional family set up, foster families can have lots of memorable and happy times (despite the difficulties W has highlighted in this interview). Fostering enhances the lives of children but the children themselves can enrich the lives of their foster carers. We asked W to share her most memorable moments from her fostering career so far. “I had a young girl placed with me, who was quite challenging, who moved on, she would contact me regularly asking me for advice. She would even contact me on Christmas Day , she would face time me. Also, when the birth families thank me , it’s just lovely”.

W has been fostering for over six years so is more than qualified to share advice about fostering, she has lots of useful insights to share. “If I was to share advice I think firstly you need a thick skin, and don’t take things too personally. Talk to other foster carers, it helps to share experiences and tips.
Also, remember to enjoy the children, show them respect, and understanding. Be kind to yourself too, and if you need support don’t be afraid to ask for it”. At Focus Foster Care we offer 24 hour telephone support to all our foster carers, someone is always available if you are in need of advice or support.

“I love being a foster carer, it can be hard to put into words,  as it’s more of  a feeling you get deep  within your heart.”

There are many different types of foster care, the type of placement varies depending on the needs of the child. W has experience in some of the different types of fostering. “I’ve done respite, and long term fostering, although some children move on shortly. I love long term fostering, as the children become part of your family, and it gives the children stability”. There is lots of information on the different types of fostering available here on the Focus website – Types of Foster Care.

W is a much valued member of the Focus Foster Care family and we asked her what she thinks of our independent fostering agency. “Focus foster care is a small friendly agency, it’s very easy to contact them anytime day or night, they always answer the phone. I also, enjoy the training, as I like to meet up with the other carers”.

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Focus Foster Care is an independent fostering agency, helping to support vulnerable children in the West Midlands and surrounding areas by providing exceptional foster care. We are currently seeking new foster carers to join our team, please get in touch if you would like to find out more – telephone 0800 524 4797 or email admin@focusfostercare.com

fostering

To find out more about fostering and how to become a foster carer with our independent fostering agency, please read the following pages on our website:
Types of foster care.
Who can foster?
How to become a foster carer with Focus Foster Care.
Fostering – frequently asked questions.
The benefits of fostering with Focus Foster Care.