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

Fostering pet

First Step to Foster

Helen’s Fostering Blog

Finally, we make the big first step into fostering.

It was in the early stages of my relationship with my husband that we first discussed fostering.

As it was something I had always wanted to do I felt I needed to let him know this at the very beginning.  I asked how he might feel about fostering at some point in our future together, he was very honest and responded he really didn’t know much about it.

I explained I had a couple of books on fostering which he decided to read.  We talked about what he had read and he responded he was definitely interested in the idea of fostering but that it needed to be the right time and obviously at that point I had not even started a relationship with his daughter, but I was pleased that I had meet someone who thought it was something they felt they could do.

The discussions about fostering continued throughout our relationship and eventually an opportunity arose around 7 years into our lives together, when I took voluntary redundancy from my job of 20 years.  We were already looking into buying a new home and decided to go for a home with 2 extra bedrooms so that we could foster siblings.

We moved into our new home at the end of February 2018 and started decorating all 4 bedrooms first.  It was shortly after this I started the long process of looking into various different Fostering Agencies.

I had spent such a long time looking into fostering, the process and different approaches.

We had decided that for us it would be best to go through an agency rather than the LA.  Problem was there were so many to choose from and I wanted to make sure I made the right choice for us.  I noted down a few telephone numbers and details of agencies that seemed right for us.

Fostering UK (Simply Fostering) was at the top of my first choice.  One of the reasons for this was because they covered many areas.  The Director of Fostering UK called me back very quickly after my first initial register of interest.  I found him to be very straight talking and I liked the fact that they were a smaller, new and upcoming agencies.

The Director clearly had many years of experience in Fostering which made me feel more comfortable.  After a few days a representative from the company contacted us to arrange our first face to face meeting.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from that first initial meeting, but I do recall suggesting my husband wore a shirt.  When the lady arrived, I was delighted to see she had blue hair and looked very causally dressed.  I then started to understand that Fostering isn’t about how you look on the outside, all importance’s is put on what kind of person you are inside.

Helen – A New Foster Carer’s Blog