Fostering pet

Skills to Foster Training

Helen’s Fostering Blogs

Skills to Foster Training

Prior to being approved as Foster Carers George and I attended a two-day Skills to Foster Training.  Skills to Foster is a pre-approval training course and its aim is to provide prospective Foster Carers with information about the skills and abilities needed to be a foster carer.

It was also a lovely opportunity for us to meet and start to get to know some of the other potential foster cares that would be working for the same Fostering Agency as us.  Some of the other potential foster cares on the training course had already been fostering for many years.  This was helpful to be able to sit and talk to people that had lived and breathed life as a Foster Carer.

The course covered all aspects of fostering and in particular therapeutic foster care.  I am not going to lie the first time you hear that you should never tell a foster child ‘No’ or ask “why they did something” takes a little bit of time to get your head round, especially when it is possible they may have just smashed up your very expensive tv or hurt your much loved family pet.  They talked about the ‘time in’ rather than ‘time out’ practice and why this is so important.

We were also asked to think about the emotions and feelings a child may go through about being fostered and apart from their families.

The potential and possibility for allegations that can occur whilst fostering is at the forefront of most foster carer’s minds.  For George and I this was an area of concern for us. We also had to consider that this was not just about us, it would also be a potential risk for all our family and friends that would undoubtably come into contact with any children placed with us.  Did we have the right to put those we love in that position and how would we manage situations so that they were protected against the possibility of any allegations being made against them.

We understood that should an allegation be made against us this could cost us dearly, for instance would it affect George’s relationship with his own daughter?

How and if would we be supported through such an event?

During the Skills to Foster training allegations were discussed and most importantly how you can safeguard yourself against them through safer caring.  I have since done more training on safer caring and this remains an important factor in our day to day lives in fostering.

Over the two days we learnt that whilst fostering can and will be very rewarding it was also going to be demanding and difficult at times.

The Skills to Foster Training was a no nonsense, straight talking, eye opener into fostering children who have suffered trauma and how working with them therapeutically would be very different to how you would parent your own children.  Our hour and half car journey home that first day was done in silence, both of us lost in our own thoughts and feelings about what we had learnt that day.

At the end of the two-day training course we were left with much to think about, we had a much better and clearer understanding of fostering.

George and I understood that fostering was going to change our life in many ways and that it would change how we lived and behaved in our own home.  The big questions “could we do this?” and most importantly “did we really want to?”

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer’s Journey

Fostering pet

Fostering decisions

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Shall we foster?

My Stepdaughter needed to be a big part of our discussions and ultimately our decision as to whether we fostered.

One of the things myself and my husband were very conscious about was that it was one thing for us to want to foster but how did George’s daughter feel about it.  So for her to be able to  make an informed decision, first we had to ensure she understood what being part of a foster family really might feel like.  It was so important to us that she was part of our decision as a family to consider if fostering was right for us as it was undoubtably going to have an impact on her and her life with us.

Libby was only 5 years old when I first meet her, she lives with her Mum and visits us every other weekend and during school holidays. I had been in a relationship with her Dad for around a year by the time we first met.   Over time it became clear that there were many things that me and Libby didn’t know about each other, so I came up with a game which we now call ‘Guess How Well you Know Me’.  This became a fun way for us to get to know each other and many years on Libby has never bored of this game and interestingly its now also a game that our 2 foster children also like to play.

The great thing about this game is you are not expected to know the answer, the aim of the game is about finding out about each other. The rules are simple, everyone takes a turn to ask a question for the others to guess, such as “what is my middle name”, “was it my favourite colour, animal, what was my least favourite subject at school” etc.

We have always included Libby (George’s daughter) in any decisions we make as a family, so fostering was going to be no different.  When we first mentioned fostering to Libby she was about 10 years old and she had just turned 12 by the time we started fostering 2 children, so it gave us plenty of time to see how Libby really felt about the prospect of being part of a fostering family.

During the assessment process for fostering we decided to use this game to see how much Libby had understood about our conversations around fostering, so we would ask her questions such as

“can you give me 2 reason why a child might need to be fostered”,

“ can you give me 3 emotions a child might feel when they first come to live with us”,

“can you give me 2 things that we could do that might help them feel better about living with us”,

“can you give me 3 feelings you have about other children coming to live with me and your Dad” etc.

It was really pleasing to hear her responses to these questions, her insight felt beyond her years, and it was because of her answers that we felt sure that not only did Libby fully understand everything she needed to know about fostering but that she would also be an amazing foster sister. 

Helen is new a foster carer – Changing children’s lives – Helen’s Foster Care Blog

Fostering pet

Foster Carer Assessment

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Form F – Assessment Process

After our first initial meeting with a representative from the Agency we were assigned a Supervising Social Worker.

A Supervising Social Worker provides both supervision and support to Foster Carers.  Once approved they will visit you once a month for Supervision, they also attend all meetings involving the children with you such as PEP and LAC Reviews etc. They are on hand to assist and give advice, which is invaluable, particularly at the beginning of your journey into fostering.

Our Supervising Social Worker (Linda) was also the person who we completed the assessment with us.  This was really helpful as we had already built a good working relationship with her by the time we had been approved.

The assessment process was outlined to us on our first meeting with Linda.  She quickly made us feel at ease and we started to build a very honest and open relationship with her.  The assessment process can take anything between 4-6 months and involves a series of meetings during this time.

On our first meeting Linda viewed our home and discussed our understanding of fostering and explained the fostering process itself.  It was explained that over the next few months together we would be completing the Form F Assessment.

The Form F Assessment covers our abilities to foster.  This will include everyone living in our home, including our cat and my husband’s daughter who visits every other weekend and during school holidays.  At first the process can feel like a very daunting prospect.  It will require you to be very open and honest with yourselves to really find out if fostering is right for you and more importantly if you are right to foster.  We actually ended up finding the assessment very enjoyable.

It really made me reflective upon my own childhoods and the positive attributes of our relationship.

I truly believe our assessment was made easier and more enjoyable due to how well we got to know Linda during this period.  You are sharing at times some very personal details about your views, feelings, your own childhood and parenting styles and yet I never at any point felt uncomfortable with this.

During this time we discussed with Linda our thoughts and feelings about how many children we felt we could foster and the age range of those children.   At the time my stepdaughter was 10 years of age and we felt any children we fostered needed to be younger than her, but we didn’t really want to foster very young children or babies.

Over those few months of assessment it made us think about the commitment we would need to make and that therefore our footloose and fancy-free lifestyle that we had at that time would undoubtably change.  This raised probably the biggest decision that we had to decide…. was this something we felt we could do and how would that decision change us as couple and our lives.

Helen – A Blogging Foster Carer – Protecting Children