[Care Champions] A foster carers story: In their words, from their experience

As a family we became foster carers in 2019. We have had various placements in this time, a mixture of respite of 5 weeks for a sibling group and a short term placement. Our current placement is another sibling group.

This placement was short term when they first moved into our home in June 2019 as they had a plan for adoption. At the LAC review in December it was decided that the plan should be changed to one of long term fostering. There were different reasons as to why the children weren't adopted . It was felt that they needed to have security and a home to call forever as they were getting older.

In January the children started a local school in our area which both children are enjoying walking to school. 

Friendships are building well for them both and they have both shown confidence at school which is a massive improvement from their last school and nursery. This could be due to the historical trauma and memories associated to the area of where the school was and the closeness to family homes.They had lived with both their parents and grandparents prior to moving into a foster placement.

As foster carers we can see this difference in the little boy he is coming home from school, with his shoes scuffed and muddy trousers. He is now open to talk about what he has done and who he has played with. This gives us a clear indication that he is playing which is quite the opposite to his previous school. He has been able to start swimming lessons and is doing really well. He would like to start another activity but keeps changing his mind as to which one but once long term we will look into this greater. He has enjoyed taking part in the after school club multi sports at school last term.

Emotionally he is doing work with his SW and and is part of the ELSA programme at school.  He has started to disclose worries, upsets and concerns. He is showing this by being more confident and talking to my husband and myself. He has begun to push boundaries and at times will say a lie to try to avoid being told off for something that he has done. We feel this is a positive for a boy his age showing a secure safe relationship is developing between us. He understands boundaries and the reason he also recognises when he does something wrong.

The little girl we care for is under investigation for unknown learning delay and because she displays a lot of behaviours of autism and is therefore going to be assessed. She is under the care of the SALT team who review her every 12 weeks. Her speech is very limited although she can make her needs known she is unable to have any conversion. However from moving into our home she has developed enough speech so that we all know what she needs. This does have an effect on how she behaves in social settings she often plays very isolated and doesn't have much awareness that is going on with other people and their emotions. She can say single words, names recognises numbers, alphabet, can sing full nursery rhymes and can memorise stories. The school are very aware of her learning needs and have put a support plan in place. They are also concerned of her limited speech and is doing daily work with the advanced TA every session at nursery. They have recognised that she does play isolated and is delayed with social skills.  She has a understanding of who people are although will remember names of people she meets but doesn't show that she understands who they and to what relation they are to her this is with family and friends. Until a clear diagnosis this will be difficult to establish her understanding and how we can communicate life story with her.

We are fully aware of the importance of both the children's identity and their life story.

Monthly we put photos into a scrap book to keep memories of days our achievements and photos from contact with their family. I currently supervise the contact between both mam and dad which at present is once a month separately. I find this is working well and also helps with social needs of both children and that I understand her needs and can tell what she needs just from actions. We have a good relationship with the parents and this is demonstrated at all the professional meetings and during contact times.

As a family when we found out the plan was going to change to one of long term fostering and we (my family) all wanted for the children to stay with us. We feel that during the time they have lived with us we have seen huge progress with both children although we know we still have some hills or even mountains to get over we want to love and commit to both children life long to full fill their potential to their best. 

We feel that we have the qualities to provide a loving, caring, compassionate home for the children. Our eldest daughter is a fashion student in term time.  She is a youth worker at a local church. She has lots of resources and experience so her times home are a great value as she holds a DBS with the council and supports my husband and myself excellently.  Our youngest daughter in this year has shown qualities such as kindness, sharing and spending time with both the children we are obviously very proud of this and how she too has expressed how much she would like us to care for the children long term.

My husband is a mental health nurse and works 3 x 12 hour shifts a week so is home for 4 days a week which is a great support to myself and enables almost joint parenting a lot of the time. I have a back ground of 25 + years of care and nursing adults. I had to retire in October 2018 due to health reasons. Fostering has always been something that has been a thought in my heart and mind so following my retirement I discussed it with my family and we decided to pursue this. Ste and I attended the fostering course and felt that fostering was something that we both could do within our family. I am obviously the main carer for the whole family as I am at home full time. Over the last year I have attended all the mandatory training and have attended the 5 day attachment course which I found beneficial and Ste is hoping to attend the next one this year. I am keen to attend further courses to help me develop further. 

The children are both very happy in our home and this can be seen by their behaviour. Both children are showing a secure attachment within our home and family.  When the SW told the children that we had said we would like to be their forever home we gave them a black and white figure picture with all of us on it and our surnames written on a tree in the picture.

The picture has been put up in our living area downstairs. We have also put photos up of the children along side our girls and a family one of us altogether.  Saltburn has become a favourite place for us all over the last year. It was also where Ste and I had one of our first dates. 

As a family we attend church weekly and have great support from the church fellowship. Parents are happy that the children attend and they really enjoy going and are building friendships in Sunday school. We spend time with both our families through the week where the have gained more aunties, uncles and cousins to spend time with. The family parties that we have attended the little boy expresses that he really enjoys them and loves us all. We have a good support of friends that give us emotional support along with our own family and church family.

I hope this shows some desires to be foster carers and the difference it can make to children's life's. We believe children's life's can be changed by unconditional love and we love and support everything Northpointcare stands for to transform life's of children.

#fostercarer #fosternow #hope #future #family #children #church #teesside #autism #specialneeds #heroes #community

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