Emma’s Fostering Blogs are by an experienced foster carer who gives you an honest and revealing insight into the ups and downs of foster care. A great resource for other carers and those interested in becoming carers.

Fostering Blogs

Social media

Emma’s Fostering Blog

Social media

Leanne is staying for a month on respite, its two weeks in and like most teenagers she is always on her mobile phone.

There are some issues with her as apparently she keeps informing me at every opportunity that there are different rules in her Foster Carers house. Leanne thinks it’s weird that we restrict all phone, tablets, and laptops to family spaces.

I learned a long time ago that there is less opportunity to be on the phone when they should be asleep or the temptation of playing games and on the plus side more time to interact with the family. It has been an up and down couple of weeks with her she is quite miffed that her carers have gone on holiday without her, which is understandable, however she knows this was booked before she came to them as an emergency.

Yesterday she was bragging about how many followers she had on social media and then she showed me a picture -I wasn’t expecting this rather sexy pose whilst looking all seductive. I knew at that moment I needed to keep her safe; it’s scary what kids can do on their phones. EastEnders was on tonight and it just so happened they were covering the very same topic of how pictures are shared and that lead on to a good discussion in general e.g. boyfriends or friends who are not so nice, even posting photos for their friends to see that she might not want everyone to see and once out there these things hang round for ever. I don’t think she actually thought about any of this.

Now all I had to do was Stop and think about how I was going to interact with Leanne without triggering an argument so I decided as she likes to be inquisitive I would have my laptop on and have it open on the ThinkuKnow website, it’s great, has information for 8-10 and 11-13 year olds and 14 + information, games to learn how to keep safe, relationships, technology and the internet. And just as I thought, she wanted to know what I was doing so I showed her; she actually thought it was interesting so we had a look around the site together.

We often take things for granted as I don’t think anyone had actually sat down and explored using social media with her, because she was not fully aware of privacy settings so that only close friends can search for them, tag them in a photograph or share what they’ve posted. I think we are starting to build a relationship.

My thoughts are I have gone through this teenage stage before, it’s not easy and certainly for them; everything is unfair, but also complicated, far different to when I was a child. They use a wide range of social networking sites as a vital part of their relationships with others.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!

Fostering Blogs

Misconceptions

Emma’s Fostering Blog

Misconceptions

A fact -most Foster Carers can’t afford to foster without being paid, they need to provide a warm comfortable home and pay the bills just like anyone else.

When Foster carers complain about the challenges it’s not usually about the money, although we should, less than the minimum wage, it’s usually about the system failing our children. What is not always clear to the public is that we are paid in two parts – payment for the child, which is to cover the cost of their daily living and a payment for the carer for the work they do.

I am self-employed and at times might not have a child in but I have to still be available, but unpaid. I had this exact conversation with my next door neighbour, and in my opinion fostering adverts can be misleading e.g. ‘Foster with us from £300- £700’ Sounds a reasonable amount, but only part of this is your wage and you need to consider that as you will be on call 24/7.

Payments and allowances should be clearly identified and the costs associated with fostering, as this can be far higher than those of a birth child. Some carers rely on benefits or may have a small extra payment for skills. Payments vary according to the child’s age, behaviours and where you live.

Whether you care for teenagers, small child or baby- the biggest part of the payment is for the child. These are Children who have had the worst start in life, let down by people who are supposed to love and protect them. They may have more emotional, behavioural and mental health needs than most children. Bedwetting, soiling or sickness, so higher electric and water bills or challenging behaviours can result in replacing things. Consider Petrol costs for meetings, and visits to see birth family. Summer holidays, outings, Easter, birthdays and Christmas, nappies, toys, clothes, toiletries, clubs, pocket money, savings, food and school dinners.

It’s us at the end of the day that makes it work. ‘Stay as long as you want, no time limit, entirely up to you,’ there is no other work like Fostering. To experience a child that has touched our hearts, like Dan, who was sad, jumpy, scared and withdrawn from the hurt he had endured. We comforted and supported him, in listening, and understanding him and then introducing laughter and just those simple things made him feel safe with us. Dan is very happy, achieving and settled now. The money wasn’t why I came into Fostering – it’s because I love what I do.

My thoughts are fostering ends at 18, the emotional relationship does not! Government funding allocated for ‘Staying Put’ is not sufficient to meet the costs for foster carers; some may not have space to still continue to foster and having less income or managing their needs as an adult.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!

Fostering Blogs

Time for me

Emma’s Fostering Blog

Time out for me

As a foster carer I hear so many wonderful Foster Carers discussing issues around advocating on behalf of their Foster children.

Learning from my own experiences it can feel like you are at war with different services, your family, even society. Often you can feel very tired and frustrated with the issues that seem like they are not being resolved quickly enough. It’s important to discuss with the child’s Social worker immediately any concerns so you can get a diagnosis but you have to remember you are not alone and use your support network as it’s not just down to you.

I have  seen many Foster carers including myself  being so disillusioned, believing certain things will solve the child’s  problems as in a diagnosis, an Educational Health Care plan and so on, this might help with more help and support eventually but until then it’s about looking at the behaviour and looking at ways to manage.

You must be careful to not wear yourself out and not always function in battle mode, as this is likely to cause you more problems in the long run. I think I have become used to running at high stress levels for some years because of the length of time I have been fostering.  I can usually keep up with it, but every now and then it becomes apparent that by dealing with all of the added stress of parenting a foster child which is different to parenting your own child it’s really hard work.

There isn’t a moment when I’m not thinking about or something related to the children or fostering tasks and my own mental health takes a bashing as there is not always the time for me. With my current child I know typical discipline won’t work because he is unable to contain his behaviour so I use problem solving approaches, holding him accountable for his behaviour. First I have to figure out what is causing the problem, watch for the early cues that he is getting angry and about to become out of control, and then help him calm down and take him out of the environment.

I think in general Foster carers are not great at putting their own needs first, I am at the point now where I feel I need to rediscover the activities I enjoyed before I became a Foster Carer and was tasked with the a big responsibility of parenting a looked after child. I need to learn to breathe, relax, and finish things I start as often I don’t because something else needs my attention.

My thoughts are that every now and again I must remember the reasons why I wanted to be a foster carer, for that children experience a good childhood with us and achieve and have fun, if I am always in battle mode how can I have fun with the children.

Emma – A Blogging Foster Carer – I Love What I Do!