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Sheila & Gregg

Tuesday 07 November 2023

Sheila and Gregg were approved in 2022 and we caught up with them to discuss the assessment process and how they are finding respite fostering.

Why did you become foster carers?

We saw an advert just after Christmas asking for retired people to come forward as carers. Because we had 20 years of previous respite experience for children with additional needs we decided to put our names forward. We thought we were too old and were pleasantly surprised to be told we weren’t!

What was it like with your first child in placement?

Our first child was a 10 year old boy in Plymouth. We went to visit him and took him a present and sat talking to him, he was very nice, he came to stay and we realised his difficulties. He was no trouble though and he was a lovely boy, it took a while to get to know him and we have had him to stay a few times. You don’t understand some behaviours until you experience them. We keep in close contact with the main carers so we know what’s happened that week before he comes to visit us. It is easier once you get to know each other.

How did you find the assessment process?

Our process took 6 months, it was very interesting and thorough. Our assessor got so much out of us that we didn’t know was in our mind. It really makes you think. It was interesting for us as people to think about those things. The assessment was very thorough which is good, it gave us the feeling that it was the correct thing to do, we knew you were making sure we were safe and the child we had would fit with us well. There was lots of training and some overlapped but it was very worthwhile and really made you think, as you’re not bringing up your own child and to have to bring up a child through therapeutic parenting can mean a completely different parenting style than you’re used to. We enjoyed the training and makes you feel like you are prepared.

How do you manage challenging behaviour?

We only have one child who challenges us, if they say no we say okay, go downstairs and then come up in 5 mins to see how he is and usually he has done what we wanted him to do, leave the situation and leave them to it. Every child is different and some methods work with children and some dont. We try to make it fun if they really aren’t going to do it, such as brushing teeth. The benefit of being retired is that there is no panic to do things immediately, we aren’t in a hurry whereas some main carers don’t have that luxury so we can take our time with things. We now manage to take the dog out for a walk with a child who would hardly ever leave the house.

What advice would you give to someone thinking of fostering?

Discuss it with your partner if you have one, family, friends at length and do definitely take the training on board and go with it as its very worthwhile, fostering itself is a very worthy thing to do. You have to give 100%, you have to be constantly aware but its incredibly rewarding. If you are doing respite then to take a break when you can rather than have children stay back to back so you can recharge your batteries.

Understand yourselves and what you can offer, what your skills are. Know your limitations as well. If you are in a relationship then both of you need to be committed, as you need to work as a team.

And lastly – you are never too old!!

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