Emma’s Fostering Blog
Often carers discuss support and this is crucial for the job we do as we have children living with us which means dealing with a range of overwhelming feelings at times. Support from people who have experienced first-hand about what it’s actually like and how hard it can be at times. I liked going to my support group, and at times when it was hard I almost felt like giving in, but after listening to others I often came out thinking my problems were not as bad as theirs.
It was during my second year as a foster carer that one morning I just felt at the end of my tether. I had enough of the constant wetting from James and his refusal to go to bed, I had a change of Social worker and I just felt he wasn’t listening and I felt unsupported.
I remember listening to another carer in the group who had a child that constantly smeared and she had just found lots of faeces wrapped in toilet paper behind her sink, she was really struggling and began to cry and all the carers were supportive, encouraging and knowledgeable in helping her. Those carers became my support network. I never got to tell my story it didn’t seem as big an issue as hers, and I didn’t give in, in fact it gave me the strength to know that I could see this through, as it wasn’t as bad as I thought and determined to get a positive result.
A whole new culture crept into fostering. Instead of support groups they became information groups; honestly they could quite easily give us the information during supervision. The attitudes changed within fostering teams, from once being part of a fostering family, we were now being separated from one another, no longer allowed support groups in carer’s houses. The relationships and trust we had built within our own particular groups changed as minutes were now taken, so there were trust issues as carers felt judged or viewed as struggling. Foster carers were unhappy but FSW frowned upon any one that spoke out of turn about the changes, bullying and frozen out for speaking up.
Some carers resorted to having their own secret Facebook group, coffee mornings and social gatherings. However there was a huge problem with this as it meant some less experienced carers were not able to be included so they became isolated and began working in a different way from the older more experienced carers. I believe it hasn’t changed, but for me I am happily attending a support group where I can be honest and open with others, there are no minutes, a SSW who totally gets it; encourages honesty and discussion in a non-judgemental way.
My thoughts are support from other carers is invaluable and most importantly they should be led by foster carers and encouraged to speak up.
Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!