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.

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Blog Unannounced Visit

Thursday’s Fostering Blog

The Unannounced Visit!!

Around once a year we get our unannounced visit from Social Services. This is required by Oftsed, as a check up on all foster carers. I am not opposed to the idea itself, its just you can pretty much guarantee it wont be on one of those really lovely evenings when you are all sat around the table – helping the children with the homework, making hot chocolate for a treat etc. No, it will come on the night where one of the children are pouring out their soul to you because they have had the worst day of their life at school, one of them will be crying because they don’t understand their algebra homework, and the foster child will have just done the biggest poo in their pad and the smell is lingering in the house. Charlie is inevitably in his office (man cave) “working” when the door bell goes.

As I open the door to the reality of the visit, my mind is swimming with all the things that are not in the right place. Questions are floating in front of me – ‘is the paperwork up to date?’, ‘where did I put the car insurance certificate?’, ‘did I remember to switch the magnetic cupboard locks back on in the kitchen?’, ‘is the bleach still behind the toilet in the bathroom? and so on. We have lots of do’s and don’t around the house – and mostly they are for very good reasons, mainly keeping our foster child safe.

However, it does mean we are completely risk averse – when will our foster children ever learn the normal things in life – like do not touch a fire, do not put your finger in an electric socket. While these things are good to a point, there must come a time when we can teach our foster children (like we did with our own children) about keeping safe. If we continue to keep everything that could possibly harm them out of their way, will they ever be prepared for the real world after foster care?

I managed to stay calm and most of the things I had forgotten to do, I blagged my way through. One of my main bones of contention is the insistence of keeping our first aid box in a locked cupboard. It is currently on the top shelf of a kitchen cupboard up on the wall. I have to climb on a chair to reach it myself.

Our eight year old foster child is a paraplegic – so has no hope of climbing up to get down a plaster! I made my case again and this fortunately seemed to appease the social worker – for now. I know when the report is written it will be flagged again, and to be honest it is probably going to remain on the to do list!

A Less Ordinary Family Fostering Blog

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Christmas starts

Saturday’s Fostering Blog

Today we went to our first “Christmas” event – it was a Christmas craft fair run by our church at the local village hall. I have to say these events are not really my cup of tea, not just because it is still only November – but I know we will end up spending far too much money on what I consider a lot of old tat. I am not wrong!

The minute we get through the door we are accosted by old two ladies wanting us to have a go on the tombola. When the girls didn’t win on their first go, they had three more goes until they did win! The prize was a little underwhelming. Call me grumpy – but I just paid £4 in tombola tickets for a £1 selection box. The rest of our time was spent looking at knitted tree decorations, lavender bags and second hand books.

I really didn’t think the girls would be that bothered about anything other that the home made cakes that were at the other end of the village hall. Lauren and Annie had a quick glance at the rest of the stalls and decided they would go on ahead to choose which cake we would take home to have this afternoon.

Alice however, wanted to stop at every stall and wanted to buy all her Christmas presents there. She engaged in conversations with every stall holder. Fortunately, we had given Alice some pocket money to bring and we made a deal that she could spend as much or as little of it as she liked, but if she chose to spend it all we wouldn’t be giving her any more money.

After three stalls she had spent everything. She then looked to us. We reminded her that she had already spent what she brought.

A Less Ordinary Family Foster Care Blog

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Alice’s stage

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This evening Annie and I went to her school for a Careers Evening. The school had organised the evening for all year nine students who will be making their GCSE options later this year. It was intended to give them an opportunity to think ahead about careers they are interested in or might take an interest in, and to therefore think whether they need to take specific subjects for that career.

It is probably fair to say that it is pretty early for 13 and 14 year olds to know what career they have in mind, but I am sure it is useful to broaden their horizons a little and at least show them a variety of options.

I have to say on reflection that the school had only managed to get pretty academic professions represented – engineering, medical, lawyers etc. Whilst Annie and Lauren are potentially academic enough for these kind of careers, I couldn’t help but think ahead for when Alice is at that stage. There must be other children at the school who are not so academic and will be looking at more practical / vocational jobs. It is such a shame that these kind of professions were not represented at all. It is certainly something I will give feedback to the school on and hope that by the time Alice is at this stage other career options will be represented. Otherwise there will be little point a child like Alice even attending such an evening.

At least for Annie, who is thinking of something within medicine, it was a very useful evening, and she got to talk to a few professionals who were very helpful giving advice about doing some extra curricular things to add to her CV and help her stand out in an University application. Until then she needs to continue to work hard, and keep her mind open to all the possibilities of careers open to her.

A Less Ordinary Family Foster Care Blog

Fostering Alice