The LGBT community has long been an amazing source of brilliant carers for the looked-after children in our care. We have a significant number of LGBT couples and single carers who have provided excellent homes for children over the years, and this is something we like to celebrate.
In recognition of LGBT Adoption & Fostering Week, starting on 5 March 2018 we discussed with Maureen and her partner, Nicola, the process of fostering for the first time, and the impact it has had on their life.
People like Maureen and Nicola, provide loving homes and are brilliant role models for vulnerable children. Providing much more than just a home, Maureen and Nicola can offer security, love and comfort for a child when they are at their most vulnerable.
To discover how Maureen and Nicola got their start with the National Fostering Agency (NFA), and how it continues to enrich their lives, read on.
Why did you decide to become a foster carer?
"Before we started fostering for the NFA, we were friends and family carers within a local authority. I guess having the opportunity to do this enhanced our passion for working with young children further. Initially, we did apply at the same local authority, however, after extensive training sessions I felt that there wasn’t enough support available.
Tell us about your initial contact with the National Fostering Agency. What did the process involve and how did you feel after the initial visit?
We researched a few agencies and spoke to them about what was required for this role. We knew from our first initial telephone conversation with Iain from the NFA, that this was the agency we wanted to apply for. Our conversation was very informative and made us feel really comfortable. From this, we were supported all the way through the process."
What advice would you give to someone who is considering making that first step into becoming a foster carer?
"Often people tell us we are crazy for fostering; I tell them we are here to make a difference to the young people that come through our door. We are not superheroes or going to fix every child that we meet, however, if the children that come to stay leave with a smile and are happy within themselves then we have made a difference. So, if anyone wants to try being a foster carer, give it a go and remember the good times definitely outweigh the bad. Be yourself, be open and be honest with the young people and they will respect you for that – try living in their shoes."
What is involved in the assessment process, and what kind of information did the independent assessor want to find out?
"My assessor was fab, she had experience as a social worker, foster carer and a Mum. From the onset, we were in touch constantly and she supported us every step of the way. From there, it was just so positive, we were welcomed by all. The support and training was fantastic. They do go deep into your life but, again, being honest it is crucial. And try not to worry – they’re not judging your past."
How did you feel when you were notified of your first foster care placement?
"We cried, it was so emotional that we had been accepted to look after such vulnerable young children, and honoured to have been given the opportunity. Our first placement was a 15-year-old girl and to be honest, you try and put a picture in your head what the children are going to look like – our advice would be don’t. The exciting part is seeing each and every individual character and personality that comes through your door."
What ongoing training and support is available to you?
"There has always been a wide variety of training courses available at the NFA and the training is second-to-none. As of this year, they are making more training venues available closer to my area, so this is another positive support network for foster carers throughout the North West."
For support events in your local area, click here.
Maureen and Nicola also spoke to us on video about their experiences fostering with the NFA. You can watch the video here.
We’d like to thank Maureen for taking the time out to talk to us about her experiences fostering with NFA, and her continued efforts to provide care and support to vulnerable children who are placed with her
Maureen and Nicola are just one example of the many LGBT homes that the NFA works with to help provide safety and security for some of the UK’s most vulnerable children. Without their help, and the help of all our foster carers, we wouldn’t be able to find the right families for the children who are referred to us.
If you’d like to start your own fostering journey, there has never been a better time. As the UK’s leading independent fostering agency, we can provide exceptional support and assistance to new foster carers. For more information, visit our homepage or call us today on 0800 044 3030.