Emma’s Fostering Blog.
I often get asked about what its likes to be a Foster Carer; some think it’s not a job!
For us it has become a way of life – Fostering is the hardest thing we’ve ever done, the red tape, endless paperwork, the staff turnover, yes it’s frustrating, but it’s the most remarkable thing to be able to change a child’s life for the better and the emotional rewards as a foster carer are huge.
Children in care have mainly experienced high levels of trauma and loss, as a foster carer you need to understand the behaviours, making sense why they can’t sleep at night, tuned in to hear a pin drop, the hyper-vigilance, being completely distant or over friendly – the list is endless. Routine is important – checking out what’s for dinner and checking there is food in the cupboard; even then, they may hide food in case they do not get another meal.
Fostering is a different experience from raising your own children and as a Foster carer you are working with other professionals. You get to make the day to day decisions, but you are accountable to the agency for many other decisions unlike your own children where you make all the decisions.
We have had many children come and go over the years, but the latter years we have concentrated on long term fostering, currently we have two teenage Foster children and two care leavers living at home. One of the boys had many changes of foster homes before coming to us he has been with us for 7 years and I’m telling you it was tough at times – looking back probably most of the time for the first year at least.
People that know me know the most important thing for me is that I will not move a child on if I’ve agreed to long term because multiple placements damage children. It takes time to be able to breakthrough they have to build trust with you before they can begin to heal. I always have a good support network, of course I have the best Fostering support, but it’s my family and extended family that I really value as they have all been amazing in helping them feel part of this family.
Looking back when I first wanted to Foster I didn’t really think about support, of course the agency had support – Experienced Foster carers know that the level and quality of support is the key differentiator between Fostering Agencies, yet vital to the success of placements My advice, choose a LA or IFA very carefully, you need excellent support and experienced professionals to guide you! Fostering is demanding and rewarding, emotionally not financially.
My thoughts are- It is a job, we get paid, we are not their parents – but we can still give warmth, love, fun, healing and new experiences and be a professional Foster parent.
Emma – A Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!
Foster Carer Blog.