Foster Stories: A Chat with Naomi Potter
Naomi Potter, along with her partner Laura Allen, has been one of the registered foster carers here at Pathway Care since late 2016. Here, we talk to her about the process of becoming a foster carer and the impact it has had on the couple’s lives. Here, is what Naomi had to say.
When did you decide to become a foster carer?
My partner spoke to me about fostering back in 2014/2015 and after this, we spoke about it in depth and called Pathway Care about some information regarding fostering, the process etc. After this phone call, we waited until we got married (as suggested) then called back in 2016.
We had an initial meeting with one of the workers at Pathway Care who came to our house.
At this point, we were in a smaller house and were both working the same shifts at the same place, so we knew that we had some decisions to make regarding how it would work with children in placement if we qualified. We decided that it was best if we moved from our small two bed to a large three bed to be able to easily accommodate children.
We also then started our own cleaning business to become more flexible to be able to foster. In October 2016, we officially started the process.
Tell us about your initial contact with your fostering agency – what did the process involve and how did you feel after the initial visit?
Pathway Care were very pleasant to talk to on the phone, and we instantly felt comfortable which we took as a good sign. We were both very nervous about the initial first meet but soon felt at ease after meeting with Liz. She was very informative and very passionate about her job and made us excited to start the process. We did mention that we may move and were advised to move first as there needs to be a house check done as part of the process.
We took this advice and put the rest of the process on hold and continued it after we’d moved. The process took about six months. It was very full on, but both of us did not have any issues with it and it ran very smoothly. The only trouble we ran into was getting DBS checks from when Laura lived in Spain as it was quite a lengthy process to getting these verified. We also knew that it could possibly push back our panel date as these could take months to come back. Luckily, they came back within a couple of weeks.
The rest of the process just included someone coming to get details of our entire background. She came once a week for around eight weeks. Our referees also had to be visited and ex-partners contacted. This also all ran very smoothly.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering making that first step into becoming a foster carer?
I would make sure it was right for them and make sure they understood everything that it entails. I would also tell them how rewarding it is, but also not sugar-coat how difficult it can be at times. If they had children, I would also speak to them about making sure that their kids are sure that they are ok with this as it can seem quite an imposition on them. I would tell them all about our positive experiences and I would definitely advise them to go with the same agency as us, as we have had nothing but great experiences with them.
What is involved in the assessment process, and what kind of information did the independent assessor want to find out?
The independent assessor wanted to literally cover everything about our life, childhood, parents’ childhoods, upbringing, past relationships, experiences of coming out to our parents and friends, jobs we’d had, holidays, our morals and views, personality traits, hobbies and interests etc.
How long did it take to be approved as a foster carer, and how did you find the assessment process?
The assessment process took around six months. I know some people find the assessment process difficult but both of us found it extremely easy to go through. The only very nerve-racking thing was having to go to panel. I found it a little intimidating but after a couple of minutes in the room, I felt at ease.
How did you feel when you were notified of your first foster care placement?
Our first placement that we were actually notified on, never actually ended up happening which did get our hopes up a little. However, shortly after this we did get a respite placement for a week. We were both very nervous but excited. I do remember both of us struggling to sleep the first night of the placement but soon got into a good routine and got comfortable with the young person. The day this young person went, we ended up getting another emergency placement the same night for a sibling group, who are still with us now and we are planning to keep long-term.
What ongoing training and support is available to you?
We have been on a fair amount of training since we qualified and have always had access to extra training. We get the annual list of training given to us and get to pick extra training we would like to join. We also get advice on what training would be best suited to our current situation.
We’d like to thank Naomi for taking the time to talk to us about her experiences as a foster carer.
If you are interested in following in Naomi and Laura’s footsteps, visit our homepage for more information, or give us a call on 0800 170 1706.