Our Experience of Becoming Foster Carers

Many people consider fostering and there are lots of different types of fostering – foster carers choose what is right for them and their circumstances. We caught up with foster carers Julie* and David* to find out why and how they became foster carers and what they enjoy most about it

Why did you want to be a foster carer?

We have been very fortunate in our lives and wanted to give back some of what we have had. We wanted to try to make a positive difference, however small that may be, to help children reach their full potential and have a happy future. We have both worked and enjoyed working with children in a nursery/pre-school/entertainment environment and could think of nothing better than to do what we love in our own home. 

What skills or experience did you need to become a foster carer?

We attended The Skills to Foster training which covers all aspects of fostering. Our life experiences were considered and Training Support and Development standards (TDS) had to be completed in the first year of induction. We receive ongoing training, which is mandatory. We have two weekly supervision checks to make sure that the a href="https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/fostering-services-national-minimum-standards">national minimum standards are adhered to and are reviewed annually to identify performance levels and establish additional training for skill gaps if required.

We are carers for Nexus Fostering, where we’ve also had Care+ training (a therapeutic approach to foster care) and Nexus 360 training (a specialist service that aims to meet the needs of children deemed ‘hard to place’ who might otherwise be in a residential unit).

We have a Personal Professional Development Plan (PPDP) which is continually updated and David also attends training specifically for Men Who Foster.

Do you specialise in caring for children of a particular age?

We are approved and trained foster carers for children 0+, all gender types, long and short term care, respite care, emergency care and parent and child (P&C) placements. At the moment we have a 1 year old and a 4 year old sibling pair living with us, but we have cared for a variety of ages from babies through to teenagers, as well as a mother and new born baby.

Do you have a preference to what age group you look after, and why?

When we started this journey we had no preference. We’ve found each placement challenging and rewarding in their own way. Since moving nearer to our grandchildren we prefer to foster younger children, or to have a parent and child as these fit better with our lifestyle.

What do you enjoy most and least enjoy about being a foster carer?

It’s incredibly rewarding to see the younger children grow and move on to their forever home. I also enjoy being able to help a parent learn and develop the skills they need to enable them to provide a safe and caring home for their child.

We least enjoy the politics. Our views aren’t always considered, despite being the ones living 24/7 with the child. It might not be the same everywhere, but we often feel that decisions are made by professionals who have limited everyday knowledge of the child and that’s frustrating, especially when those decisions can be life changing.

What do you find challenging / difficult about being a foster carer?

We find the lack of honest information given on a referral, the lack of communication between local authority professionals and ourselves, and the waiting time between court dates/decisions difficult. However, this is our experience and views, each private fostering agency and local authority have different ways of working and other carers might have entirely different experiences.   

Would you recommend fostering, and why?

We would definitely recommend being a foster carer, it can be challenging and frustrating but hugely satisfying and rewarding, especially when a child achieves success where others perceived there would only be failure.

*Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality

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