Steve has been a foster carer with Fostering Solutions for 8 years. For 5 of those years, he has been a single male foster carer and during this time he has provided support and guidance to over 40 children. After a challenging childhood, he made the decision to help children have a better life, and has made an impact on every child he has taken into his care. “Being a single male foster carer feels no different. I still have the same passion and love the kids to bits,” Steve told me.
Each of the 40 children have also made an impact on Steve’s life as a foster carer. Having looked after all ages from a day old on Parent and Child foster placements, to 21 with young people on our ‘Staying Put’ arrangement, Steve considers each and every one to be part of his family. Steve told us how “they all keep in touch, message and come round. It’s really nice to see them. I still send birthday cards, and they all say son or daughter as to me, they are part of the family.” Steve has some amazing memories of the children he has looked after that he “can treasure forever”.
Steve has previously worked for the YMCA, and compared to that fostering “has been a walk in the park”. It’s easier to be “laid back and don’t let things get to you”, by building up that trust the children and young people that Steve has cared for have been able to approach him with various issues during their times staying with him. He told us how his “biggest downfall is letting them go”. It doesn’t get any easier, but by keeping in touch it helps him to stay connected with the children who have been such a hug part of his life. “I make memory boxes with letters and pictures so they can remember their time with me,” Steve told us. This has been especially important for the younger children who are unable to keep in regular contact via the internet due to their age.
Although younger children can’t always stay in contact, teenagers can present their own challenges. Steve advised anyone considering fostering teenagers to “keep calm about everything. Sit down and talk to them about teenage issues. They’ll still go off and do what every teen does, but they’ll trust you enough to come back and talk to you. A lot of what they say may also be bragging rights, so being there to inform is always best”.
Steve’s assessment process was the same as anyone else, regardless of being a single male foster carer. Steve found it “alright. The assessing social worker was easy to get along with, and although I was nervous about panel, they made me feel at home and were really easy to get along with”. Just by being honest and open with the assessing social worker, it was clear that Steve had what it took to be a great foster carer. His challenging upbringing was seen as a positive, as he is able to empathise with the young people he cares about.
We asked Steve what advice he would give to anyone thinking of fostering. “It’s not something you can just go into,” Steve told us. “You have to have the passion and the dedication to make a difference for the children. You need to be there for the good and the bad, ensuring the support and love is always there as that’s what the children are currently missing. Once you’ve made the decision, just go for it. The rewards are second to none and it’s an unbelievable sense of achievement knowing you’ve done the best you can to change the lives of the children and young people. Seeing them get jobs, and doing well is all the reward you need. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done in my life, and would do it again in a heartbeat.”