Fostering Stories: A Chat with Debby and Sandra Holliday
To provide a little more background about life as a foster carer, we like to chat with our existing carers.
We discuss life as a foster carer with same-sex couple Debby and Sandra Holliday – two of our established foster carers. Here is what they had to say…
Why did you decide to become a foster carer?
There were various reasons why Sandra and myself decided to become foster carers. I guess I just wasn’t finished being a mam and having kids in the house, and we felt we were in a fortunate position to be able to offer more kids some of the opportunities we gave our own children. I am passionate about not just looking the other way and only seeing what we want to see in life, but doing something tangible to help.
Tell us about your initial contact with Fostering Solutions.
The initial enquiry was by email, we emailed both Fostering Solutions and the local authority but only got a response from Fostering Solutions. It was a very easy, comfortable conversation. We were a bit dubious being a same-sex couple, but from day one this was never an issue and certainly did not hold us back in any way.
What did the process involve and how did you feel after the initial visit?
We received a call back from our enquiry and an initial visit was set up, they were very nice and made us feel at total ease. It was a very informal chat and very relaxed, we were just asked about a quick background on ourselves and the motivation to foster and explained the rough process we would go through if we were to proceed. After the visit, we were very excited and ready to start the process, not at all dubious as we were previously. We had initially thought being a same-sex couple would stand in our way, this is the main reason we put off enquiring for so long.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering making that first step into becoming a foster carer?
Do it, just do it. If you have thought it through and feel you have time, love and patience just go for it – what have you got to lose compared to how much you could gain? As long as you have the right motivation to become a foster carer, it will be one of the best calls you make. It isn’t always easy but it is certainly worth it.
What is involved in the assessment process, and what kind of information did the independent assessor want to find out?
When we were going through the assessment process, our assessor came out to visit weekly and, to be fair, most of the time it felt we were only chatting, we were asked about family, friends, our childhood, our strengths, weaknesses, did we have a support network (this is important as you need people who you can lean on sometimes), she checked our financial stability as you need to be able to sustain your lifestyle between placements if there is a gap. At the end of the assessment, our assessor seemed more like a friend.
It didn’t seem like an invasion of privacy, we just entered the process with the view that we would be open and honest. We feel this needs to be the case so a whole picture can be gained, which will aid in a better match of foster carers with looked after children.
How did you feel when you were notified of your first foster care placement?
When we first got a call advising of our first placement, it was a lot of emotions in one from excited, a little scared (will the child like us, what do we say when we first meet the child), a little panic (have we got everything we need, is the room nice enough, do we have enough food in) all of which come naturally when the child arrives. All you need to do is breathe, it will all work out fine.
What ongoing training and support is available to you?
There is so much training available to you from classroom to online, I think my first couple of years I did so much training. I enjoy training very much as you can never know too much and there is always another angle or way of doing things as no two children are alike. There are also support groups where foster carers meet with their SSW (supervising social worker) and all give an overview of what has been going on and have a chance to chat as it is always useful to hear other foster carers opinions and have a catch-up.
Your SSW is invaluable, mine has always been available whenever I have needed her. Fay always goes over and beyond her duties. If it is offloading or advice she is only at the end of the phone and has often dropped everything and came to my house to support us. There are lots of opportunities to get involved, I am part of Buddys (supporting potential carers in the assessment
stage with any questions they may have and an insight into being a foster carer) and I am also a Helping Hand (supporting foster carers who need someone to talk to).
We’d like to thank Debby and Sandra for taking the time to talk to us, and for their continued great work in their role as foster carers.
If you would like to follow Debby and Sandra’s footsteps, and become a foster carer, visit our homepage for more information or call us today on 0800 160 1605.