It’s difficult to pinpoint just one reason why we decided to foster without it sounding too clichéd. Of course, we wanted to care for children who needed a safe home and wanted to make a difference to children’s lives.
We researched a lot of information about fostering and came across websites and forums which showed how rewarding fostering could be. I had worked in various roles with children before and fostering seemed like a brilliant opportunity. We had two spare bedrooms in our house and we just felt like it was a good time in our lives to make the decision to become foster carers.
So, we investigated the different routes into fostering (agencies and local authority) and had a few informal meetings with other agencies and our local authority before choosing National Fostering Group…and here we are nearly five years later.
Before becoming foster carers
Before becoming foster carers, Michael was self-employed, and I worked in various childcare roles in nurseries and schools, as well doing a childhood studies degree. I have been able to pull a range of skills and knowledge from previous work and academia and use it in fostering. Fostering comes with a huge range of its own challenges. National Fostering Group provide an array of training to help support us with these challenges such as attachment needs, drug and alcohol abuse, safer care and first aid. We have both become full time carers and do not have any other work commitments outside of fostering.
We decided quite early on we wanted to be part of an agency to enable us to get the best support possible. We joined National Fostering Group because we liked that it was a small-medium sized agency. This allows us to get to know all the staff and other carers within the agency, which gives us quality, personal support. By getting to know the team so well (and vice versa) this makes the matching process a lot easier because the staff know us so well and know our preferences and skills. We also chose National Fostering Group because they are a tier 1 provider and accredited as “outstanding” by Ofsted.
Our fantastic fostering agency
National Fostering Group is a fantastic agency to be part of. The staff are all very friendly and we have a brilliant social worker. Our social worker completed our form f (home study report) during the approval process so knows us very well. Our social worker visits us regularly to discuss how we are, how our placement is going and gives us opportunities to reflect on our practise. We can speak to our social worker over the phone, through email or a quick text with queries, worries, support or even when we need to offload – she will always listen and gives sound advice on how we can move forward. We have also found the out of hour’s service useful.
We really enjoy coming to practise meetings and training to catch up with other carers and add skills to our toolbox. We also really like fun days and the Christmas card competition held yearly.
We have had such a mixture of placements in the five years we have been fostering. We have had a young sibling placement for 18 months, a teenager for the best part of a year, and currently have a long-term placement for over two years who will be staying with us until adulthood. We have cared for children with autism, speech and language delays, attachments needs, and have had many respite placements for nights, evenings and school holidays. We have supported children with the adoption process and worked with many, many professionals including doctors, speech and language therapist, CAMHS, teachers, dentist, opticians, family finder, social workers and many more.
How our lives have changed
We are very happy we became foster carers. Our lives have changed considerably. We have gained an array of skills such as managing appointments, dealing with challenging behaviour, incorporating skills learnt at training into the lives of the children that live with us, supporting children with special needs and/or attachments needs. Our confidence has increased when liaising with other professionals. We have gained stability and consistency in our personal and family life raising our own children alongside fostering and can spend time together as a family. We have more spare time to prepare healthy meals and engage in family activities and fully appreciate a flexible day as opposed to working set hours.
There are many, many rewards to fostering including watching children develop and meet milestones, confronting fears, enjoying life and holidays and being happy. There are of course other rewards including an allowance with generous tax exemptions. Being a foster carer, you register as being ‘self-employed’ with HMRC. There are also the social benefits of meeting other families.
We love what we do and wouldn’t change it for the world!
Have Beccy and Michael inspired you?
Every National Fostering Group carer has access to solid support and training from the outset. Specialist training is available for foster carers who want to look after children and young people with more complex needs, such as a disability or to overcome the impact of severe neglect. If you think this sounds like something you’d like to do, enquire now.