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Hear from some of our foster carers

Read what some of our carers say about their experience of fostering.

John and Jenny

Tell us about the type of fostering you do?

We have fostered way over 50 children, some of them have stayed with us just for a few days and some have stayed until they have been able to live by themselves. We have fostered children of all ages from babies to teens, we also foster young mum/dads with their new-born babies.

What impact has fostering had on you and your family?

Our children have helped us greatly and without them, we could not do it, in fact, our daughter is also now a foster carer too. We started fostering when the children were growing up and becoming independent, even though the youngest was 10 years he was a well-contented child and we knew he could cope with the pressures of us becoming a foster family. 

What’s the best bit about fostering?

We love the opportunity to be able to help children to feel safe, secure and wanted, giving them the opportunity to be a part of a family, enjoying life as a child should.
It is lovely to keep in touch with the children to find out how well they are now doing. We stay in touch with many of the children that have stayed with us. I have on-going contact with my first placement, who is now 22 years old and we speak on the telephone and we sometimes visit each other.

What would you say to anyone thinking about fostering?

If you are thinking about becoming a foster carer, consider what impact fostering will have on your family. What you as a family will get out of it and why you want to do it. It must be more than just a job - you need a real commitment to foster. It's changed our lives only for the better but it's not always easy, you need to be robust as a family, so you are there for one another as support then it becomes the most rewarding thing possible.

Marion

Tell us about the type of fostering you do?

As a single carer, I have found fostering teenagers easier to fit into my lifestyle. I work: They go to school/college. Usually, they do not need constant attention and part of my role is to give them more freedom and independence in a measured, safe way. This gives me enough time for me.

I also foster other age groups but I find teenagers more interesting, challenging and rewarding to foster. These are their vital years before adulthood where they need guidance and support to become independent.

What impact has fostering had on you?

I think that teenagers are great. Yes, they get a bad press and yes some of them do behave in ways that puts themselves and others at risk. However, most teenagers want to become adults and be independent as soon as possible and to live positive fulfilling lives and my role as a foster carer is to help them learn and use the skills to do this.

What’s the best bit about fostering?

Teenagers are funny. They are very resourceful and it is an exciting time for them. Being part of that time and helping them to move into adulthood is exciting for me.

What would you say to anyone thinking about fostering?

The skills you need are patience and tolerance in bucket loads. You need to be calm and unflappable and have a sense of humour so that you can laugh with them about things they have done while helping them work out other ways of doing things.

Molly and Bill

Tell us about the type of fostering you do?

We have fostered many children of all different ages, sometimes we are a stepping stone in their lives and sometimes a permanent safe haven depending on their circumstances.  We sometimes have to prepare them to move on happily even though it breaks our hearts to part from them.

What impact has fostering had on you?

Fostering has had a huge impact on our lives. It has enabled us to be part of a wider family than most experience. Our large family is made up of adopted children, fostered children, birth children and I don’t think anyone would realise who was born at home or who joined the family later. They all look out for each other and are truly ‘family’.

Fostering can be rewarding and pleasurable and most importantly, satisfying and fun. Watching a child/young person settle and helping them accept and deal with their situation can be so rewarding. We give them the chance to experience ‘normal’ family life and create order out of chaos. We can help them feel safe and nurtured plus it can fulfil us to see them thrive in our care. We have to understand that their time with us may be short or long but they are still someone else’s child as well and so we must work in partnership with the department and the birth families wherever possible.

What’s the best bit about fostering?

Fostering is a way of life for us and we are enriched by all our fostering experiences. We have wonderful memories of all the children. Handing over a child who has lived with you for some years and seeing the delight of child and mother to be reunited at last is a lasting memory and still moves me to recall it.

What would you say to anyone thinking about fostering?

When considering fostering it is important that all members of the family are involved as it cannot be done in isolation.  Having everyone on board means there is support and advice from all the family. You will need this support as being a foster parent can be challenging and throw up situations you haven’t previously thought about.

Richard and Heather

Tell us about the type of fostering you do?

We are approved as short break foster carers for disabled children and we could not wait to meet the first child.  My husband uses a wheelchair so our home is fully adapted and he knows a lot about living life to the full with a disability and I am a nurse who could use my skills in caring for a child.  

We are also approved for short term and long term placements for a disabled child and feel well supported by our social worker.

What impact has fostering had on you and your family?

Its early days for us but we so far have found it a really positive experience for us.

What’s the best bit about fostering?

We think that the short break scheme is very positive for all involved: the child can meet new people and experience new things away from home whilst in a supportive environment, the birth family can take a break and we can enjoy sharing fun times with a child, knowing that we are helping in his or her development.

What would you say to anyone thinking about fostering?

You will be well supported, all the staff that we have met have been very professional and helpful; the training has been exceptional, and it is always encouraging to meet other foster carers at support groups and training to share thoughts

Jane and Charlie

Tell us about the type of fostering you do?

We are friends and family foster carers for our four wonderful grandchildren aged between 3 and 10. 

We have taken care of the children for just over two years. We had to learn to adapt very quickly, meeting the children's needs can be challenging at times. It helped that we are naturally selfless and resilient people.  The joy and the feeling of love that fills the house makes it all worth it.

Tell us a bit of how things have changed? 

Things are very different from holidays on quiet Greek Islands and meals out with friends to homemade food and eating at the table with the four children and action packed holidays in Wales and building sandcastles. Activities are creative things. We love Lego and Jigsaw Puzzles also we have created art projects with all different themes. 

The older children have after school swimming and football. Charlie and our grandson go to all Oxford United home matches. We go to the zoo and overnight stays at theme parks. 

We still have "me" time but it's very different. We make the most of our time together when the children are at school, we maybe watch catch up TV and have a nice lunch, depending on work commitments. We have now got a second TV so we can watch the news and not Peppa Pig on replay. 

What’s the best bit about fostering?

We cannot imagine our lives any other way and thankfully we are part of their journey into adulthood.  They are growing into amazing, confident, kind and loving children who bring so much joy not only to us but everyone they meet. We are so proud.

What would you say to anyone thinking about fostering?

You need to be resourceful and resilient. Emotionally it is hard at times and we both are very good at recognizing when each other needs time to recharge.

Helen and Tom

Tell us about the type of fostering you do?

Even amongst foster carers, Tom and I are unusual – we have no children of our own and have specifically chosen to foster older children and teens. We have both always felt that we’re better with teens than young children, and as a secondary school teacher, I am comfortable with teenagers. We both remember all too vividly just how hard it is being a teenager.

What impact has fostering had on you and your family?

Fostering is a collaborative effort – you are not parenting on your own but as part of a team. You spend a lot of time talking to social workers, school staff, GPs, mental health workers and a whole array of other professionals.

What’s the best bit about fostering?

Seeing the positive changes. However difficult a child’s behaviour may seem, it is almost always possible to make some sense of it once you understand what they’ve been through – and then, very slowly, you can help them to unlearn their old, destructive patterns and move on.

What would you say to anyone thinking about fostering?

My one piece of advice to new foster carers would be, to be honest about what you can handle and what will drive you nuts. We have learnt to ask lots of questions before saying yes to a placement. When we first started fostering, a friend invited me round for lunch to meet her former foster daughter Michelle, who is now a social worker in her forties. Michelle gave me a piece of advice that I’ve never forgotten: don’t try to be a saint. Don’t pretend you’re ok when you’re not. You’re not alone, and there’s always help available – you just have to ask for it.

Watch our YouTube video for more carer stories

Read a transcript

Fostering Information Presentation

Maria White

Marketing Manager

Maria White introduces herself

Spoken text:

First of all let me say thank you for choosing to find out about fostering with us, my name is Maria and its my job to help you find out what’s involved.  So let me tell you a little bit more about myself, I’ve been working for Oxfordshire County Council now for a number of years and the main aim of my job is help recruit foster carers but before this I was a foster carer myself, I had wanted to foster for a long time but it was about finding the right time for both me and my family, but due to a change in my personal circumstances and an offer of this job I am no longer able to foster but as you can imagine fostering remains a big part of my life.

Here in Oxfordshire we have over 300 foster carers but we need more foster families so we can place children locally to the things that they care about the things that are important to them like their schools, their family and their friends.   I hope that after watching this you are better informed and you are more able and ready to take the next steps to becoming a foster carer.  

Slide Who are the children

Spoken text:

Children come from all different backgrounds and we aim to recruit foster carers that come from different backgrounds too.   These children have had a difficult start and that means they may have behavioural and emotional difficulties.  There are many reasons why children need to be fostered sometimes they’ve been abused or neglected, and their parents might have drug or alcohol dependency which means they’ve neglected the children because they’re putting their own needs first.  Some parents have mental health problems or learning difficulties and some parents may have been in care themselves which doesn’t  mean that they are unable to parent themselves but it might mean that they don’t have the support network to enable them to parent as best as they should.

Abby’s story

Video

Spoken text:

Abby’s story is her journey to foster care

Music

Spoken text of child (Abby):

Hi I’m Abbey and I’m going to tell you a little bit about my life

I’m in year 7 at school and my favourite subject is umm art. At the weekends I like playing games online and walking the dog with my family. Life is pretty normal, but it wasn’t always like this. 

(music)

Scene Two – The beginning

Girl looks towards the images which get erased, and a new image appears of two adults in an argument.

Spoken text:

This is where it all started. My Mum and my Dad have argued since I can remember, but one day, when I was 8 , Dad left the house and he never came back.

Images of girl looking on from the stairs as Dad leaves the house.

Music

Scene Three – Mum’s Depression

Girl looks at the images as they erase and turn into her Mum sat on a sofa, smoking, looking vacant.

Spoken text:

This is what I came home to every day after school. Nothing I ever did cheered her up, and sometimes she’d get angry with me for no reason. She hardly ever went shopping so some days I wouldn’t get any dinner. I thought I’d done something wrong.

Music

Scene Four – Taken Away                   

Girl turns to the images again and watches them turn into a younger version of herself being walked out of her house by a social worker.

Spoken text:

One day a social worker came and told me that because my Mum was ill she couldn’t look after me.  I didn’t know what was going to happen, and I was worried about my Mum too.

Music

Scene 5 – First foster home

Girl looks at an image of herself sitting on a bed in a small room.

Spoken text:

I ended up here, at an emergency foster placement. It was only for a few weeks while everyone talked about what was going to happen to me, but it felt longer. But all I wanted was to have my Mum and Dad back together so we could live as a family again.  I knew that wasn’t going to happen though.  I didn’t make any friends there, and I wasn’t doing very well at school because I couldn’t concentrate on what I was doing.

(Music)

Scene 6 – Foster Parents

Girl looks at an image of her foster parents (a family photo)

Spoken text:

One day I was given this photo and told I was now going to live with these people. I wasn’t allowed to live at Mum’s again, but I do still see her now.  I was really scared – I didn’t know who these new people were, so how could I trust them?

Image changes to a car parked outside a house, the girl in in the back seat refusing to get out.

It took a while for them to persuade me to go inside, because I was worried this new family would let me down just like my Mum and Dad. Eventually I went inside and had some dinner. The family were actually really nice, and although it was hard at first, I began to settle in there.

Scene 7 - Now

Images of girl with her foster family.

Spoken text:

I’ve been with my foster Mum and Dad for three years now, and life is really different to how it was before. I’m less shy now because I feel more at home here, and it’s really nice to be part of a family again. We’re no different from any other family really, we have arguments sometimes, but this family is different from my old one because I know no-one is going to walk out like my Dad did.

When I grow up I definitely want to be a foster parent too so I could give other children the same chance I’ve had – to be part of a real family.

I asked my foster mum why she wanted to foster me, and she said at first she was worried how we would get on, but when she saw me smile for the first time she just knew it would all be alright.

If you think fostering is something you would like to do, just go for it.

Music

A Child’s journey

Spoken text:

A child’s journey to foster care can happen in different ways, usually we are working with the family, a decision is made that the child should go to foster carers whilst we continue to work with the family with the aim for the child to go home.  But sometimes a child can come to us in an emergency this is when the child is unknown to us and we need to place them with foster carers overnight on an emergency situation. We ask for foster carers to put themselves forward to be on a register to be phoned at any time of day or night.  Some of our carers don’t feel that this is something that they can offer but if this is something that you could offer then we would be really delighted to know that.

Children only stay in an emergency situation for a couple of nights until we work out what is best for the child.

Short term fostering can be anything from overnight to two years. When you’re a short-term foster carer you need to be flexible.  Quite often we need to extend the length of time that the child is staying with you, for instance, at first we might say to you that the child is only going to stay for a few months whilst we’re working with the family with the aim to get the child home.  But this work might take longer than we think and then we might come back to you and say actually can you keep the child for a bit longer.  So, we need you to be flexible and understanding to the needs of the child because obviously we don’t want to move children.

Long term plans

Spoken text

Sometimes it’s not possible for a child to home to their family so in that situation we would look at finding someone in the wider family to look after the child, so maybe a granny or an auntie or an uncle. But sometimes that’s not possible so then we look at permanency through fostering.

So long-term fostering is for children ages eight and upwards but sometimes they might not come into foster care until they’re older so they could be say 14 and they may live with you for a few years.  It’s a really important time for preparing a young person to have the skills that they need to live to be independent, so it could be things like teaching them how to manage their money, things like cooking, keeping the house clean, things that you would teach your own children to do when they left home. But its really important that these young people are also taught to be able to form strong and trusting attachments.  Its really our young people can move on in life to be independent and to be able to have relationships with other people.  It’s hard for them to form these strong and trusting attachments because in the past people have let them down.

It’s also really important that when we can we keep siblings together in this umm long-term situation but that’s not always possible and if that’s the case then we would do everything we can to keep our siblings in touch with each other.

Weekend support

Spoken text:

For some people they can’t commit to fostering on a full-time basis but they may be able to offer relief care, that was my situation.  I was a single mum; three children and I was working full-time so I couldn’t foster during the week, but I could foster at weekends.  Fostering was something that I’d been wanting to do for a very long time, so this fitted in perfectly with what I could offer. It’s about offering breaks and support to families when they’re in times of crisis, it’s about offering regular overnight stays one weekend a month and it gives stability and security for those families and also for the children that come and stay with you. 

Short breaks is similar to relief care in the fact that it’s looking after a child at the weekend this is offered to children with disabilities.  Its about giving a child the opportunity to have a new experience, to build their confidence to do something different that they wouldn’t maybe do with their own family and its also about giving that family a break for them to be able to do something that perhaps we take for granted like just going and getting our hair cut.  You don’t need experience of working with children with disabilities to be a short break carer you’re matched with the family and you get to know the child and you get to know the child’s needs.  The relationship takes a while to build up until you can have the child overnight, because understandably the parents need to have the confidence that you’ll be able to look after their child.  We help you with the skills and the knowledge that you’re need until your confidence and their confidence grows and then you begin to be able to have the child just a couple of hours at first until you’re ready and they’re ready for you to have an overnight stay.

Children with disabilities

Spoken text:

There are other opportunities of working with children with disabilities.  We need foster carers who can offer all types of foster carer for these children.  We are also partnered with Barnardo’s so we can provide you with all with the additional support that you might need, as I said its not necessary for you to have experience because we can give you all the training and knowledge and skills that you would need. 

Specialist types of fostering

Spoken text:

As well as disability foster carer there are other types of specialist fostering.

Oxfordshire treatment foster care is offered to children ages three to eleven, it’s a therapeutic type of fostering, the child is placed with the foster carer for up to ten months and the foster carer becomes part of the therapeutic team.  It’s preparing a child to move on to their more permanent placement, whether that’s to go back home, to be adopted or to be placed with foster carers on a long-term basis.

Parent and baby care is also specialist type of fostering.  This is offered when a young parent may be a mum or a dad has a baby and is unable to live with them independently.  Parent and baby fostering is when a parent with their baby moves in with foster carers for a period of twelve weeks.  The role of the foster carer is very much to help teach the skills that the parent needs to be able to successfully parent their baby.  At the same time an assessment is taking place to make the decision as to whether that parent and baby will be able to move on to live independently.  The foster carer is part of that decision.

Family time

Spoken text:

Family time also know as contact happens in all fostering situations its really important not only to the children but also to the birth parents and also to the wider family.  It can happen in many different situations in many different ways.  It can be face to face or over the telephone or letterbox. Letterbox is when letters are sent between the parents or other members of the family and the child, but they come through the office known as letterbox.

The frequency of family time depends totally on each individual situation so for instance you could have a long term fostering placement where the contact is only once a year through letter box, but then you might have another situation where maybe a baby is staying with a foster carer with a view to be going home to mum, then the frequency of family time in that situation could be as much as up to five times a week, because that’s really important that we maintain the bond between the mum and the baby.

The carers role in all of this is to help manage the emotions of the child, the ups and downs that come with the family time.  So often the child might feel really anxious before they go or really excited, when they come back they might feel anxious about how their parent is or they might feel sad because the parent never arrived.  Whatever their emotions are this is going to be something that the carer is going to have to help manage with them, talk it through with them and give them the option to be able to talk about how they feel too.

Unaccompanied asylum seekers

Spoken text:

Fostering unaccompanied asylum seekers is quite different to the types of fostering that we’ve already spoken about.  This is something that we have managed in Oxfordshire for quite a long time, but we have seen the numbers rise in the last couple of years quite dramatically.  The journeys that these children and young people have come on is very traumatic for them, they won’t be having any kind of contact with their parents, in fact they don’t often know how their parents are, how their other members of the family are.  There is obviously also a problem that they might not speak English and therefore there’s a language barrier, but we see our foster carers managing this situation really really well and with lots and lots of success.  If this is something that you are particularly interested in, then please do get in touch with us because it’s something that we do need to have more foster carers available to place these young people with.

Unaccompanied asylum seekers are usually male, they are usually over the age of 12 but quite often young men, teenagers and its very rare for us to see females in this situation so if you’re looking at, thinking about unaccompanied asylum seekers then if you can keep that in mind, that would be useful.

Supported lodgings

Spoken text:

Supported lodgings again, is different to fostering. It’s offered to young people from the ages of 16 to 24 and the carer has to support them for ten hours a week. 

Its really about helping them to prepare to live independently, so it could be maybe, taking them to a job interview, going to the bank, helping them set up their bank account.  Giving them some advice on how to manage their money.  Things like cooking, all the kind of things that would help them to be able to one day live independently. 

So what do the children need form you?

Spoken text:

So what do the children need form you? They need you to accept who they are and where they come from because that’s really important to them.  They need you to be their advocate, so maybe if they’re having problems at school and they don’t have the confidence to go into the school and ask for help, they want you to go in on their behalf and to talk to the teachers.  Or it might be something where you need to go to the doctors and keep talking to them about a health issue.

They also need your time and flexibility, so they need you to the there for them a little bit more.

And you can be from any background to be a foster carer because what’s in your background is what’s made you the person that you are and that’s what makes you a good foster carer.

So, what do you need then?

We want our children to reach their full potential, whatever that is.  So, we want foster carers to open up windows of opportunity for them to listen to their dreams and to help them follow those dreams.

We need you to have patience, tolerance and motivation.  Motivation so when things get tough you keep going. And you’ll have to have a sense of humour too.

What do you need to think about?

Spoken text:

You also need to be fit and healthy with lots of energy, we want our kids to go running in the fields with footballs, we want them out in the parks, we want them doing lots of things, so we want foster carers who are prepared and happy, and have lots of energy to be enjoying that stuff too.

And you have to give without expecting too much.  An example of that might be, that as a family you group together at the end of the day, you have tea, you talk about your school day, you talk about what you’ve been doing at work, that’s what we would do and that’s what I thought all families did. But, our children aren’t used to doing things like that at all, they probably not sat and had dinner at a table, so for them they were used to just grabbing something out of the fridge when it was available.  So maybe you just need to let things take time.  It might be too much to think they’re going to sit down at table with you at first, maybe let them have their dinner on the sofa, I know its not great, maybe its not what you normally would do, but eventually things will come together and they’ll be happy to do the things that you do as a family.  

You also need to ask yourself is this the right time, what I mean by that is if you’re going to be moving house, changing jobs, doing any of those kind of life changing things that you might be planning, then maybe you should come to us and start your fostering journey after you’ve achieved that.

You need space and time for a child, in most situations to foster you need a spare bedroom.  And also, you need time for that child, when I worked full time my children would go to after school clubs, but our children can’t manage that, they can’t manage the long day of breakfast clubs, schooling and after school clubs.  So, you have to figure out how many hours you work, how you can to manage, what’s your support network – who’s going to help you picking children up from school etc. So, it’s about working out how fostering can fit in with your life.

Why Oxfordshire County Council fostering team?

Spoken text:

So why foster with Oxfordshire County Council?

Well why wouldn’t you?

We’re experienced, we’ve been doing this for years.

We have a commitment to our children and therefore we have a commitment to you too.

Our aim is to place our children with carers that we know best, to ensure that we have the best placements possible for those children.

You won’t have to travel far for your support or for your training, it will all be done within Oxfordshire. And we have local support groups so you don’t have to travel far within Oxfordshire.

We have over 300 foster carers in Oxfordshire and you’ll be working amongst that support network.  You’ll be working within your local community caring for local children and when we ask our carers why did you choose Oxfordshire? that’s why they said they chose us.

What can we do for you?

Spoken text:

So, what can we do for you?

We make sure that you have the support that you need.

You have a supervising social worker who is there to be your link into the fostering service, who comes and does regular visits with you and makes sure that you have the training and support that you need.  The child has a social worker too, and these two social workers and yourself work together to ensure that you give the best possible placement for that child.

There are regular support groups in different parts of the county that you’ll be invited to attend and also there’s an out of hours number that you can ring if you need support. For instance if you were looking after a child, maybe a teenager fifteen years old and she wants to go out on a Friday evening, and you say to be home at ten but she doesn’t come home, then there’s a number that you can ring and you can get help and advice as to what to do.

You won’t be out of pocket when you foster.  There’s an allowance that covers the cost of having a child and also, you’ll be paid a fee element on top of that.  That fee is paid, linked to your skills and the more experience and skills that you gain then you can go up and you can get an increased fee.

The,re’s also other payments for instance allowances for birthday and Christmas and an activity allowance too.

There are many other benefits that we access for foster carers and that’s to ensure that foster families get lots of opportunities to do fun things together. 

You’ll also be asked to do training courses.  There are training courses like first aid, safeguarding and manual handling if you’re working with children with disabilities that you must complete there are also other training too that we will ask you to do that helps you become the best foster carer that you can be.

Peer support and help

Spoken text:

There’s tonnes of other support out there for you too.

The OFCA is an association set up by foster carers to be the voice of foster carers, to be the link to the fostering service and also to support you, but most importantly they run and fund lots of different activities and events for children both foster children and birth children.  Its really important that we recognise everything that birth children do by being part of a foster family. 

Carer coordinators are experience foster carers that are there to support you through your journey to become a foster carer and afterwards.  They facilitate support groups and there are different support groups held across the county, so you don’t have to travel too far to get to one.  The carer coordinators are also there at the end of the telephone so you can ask them any questions that you may have.

You’re working within a local fostering community and its really important that you recognise this and take every opportunity to get support from other carers when you need it.

There are social activities that we hold on an annual basis for instance the picnic. The picnic is there for you to go as a foster family with your birth children too, so you can have some fun together and meet other carers. 

There are also other professionals involved, for instance the virtual school who are there to help you with educational needs and the ATTACH teams that is a team of psychologists that can help both the child understand their emotions but also help a foster carer to understand those child’s emotions.

What’s the process?

Spoken text:

So what’s the process to become a foster carer?

First of all you need to tell us a little bit more about yourself, you can do this over the phone by speaking to our enquiry officer.  She’ll ask you a few questions and its an opportunity for you to ask her questions.

And then if you both decide if this is the right time, we’ll invite you to have an initial home visit. That’s when a social worker comes round your house for about an hour maybe an hour and a half, and gets to know a little bit more about you, your motivations to foster and also gives you the chance to ask lots more questions.

If then you both decide that this is the right time to put in an application in you’ll start your home study assessment.  Also, at the same time we’ll invite you to do some preparation training.  And then when all of that’s done, you’ll go to panel where you’ll be approved to be a foster carer.

Home study assessment

Spoken text:

The home study assessment takes between four and six months.  And there’s between six and eight visits from the social worker to your house.  It’s a joint piece of work between the social worker and yourselves.  Lots of people are worried about the assessment they think that its going to be intrusive and it might be uncomfortable.  They think we’re going to ask lots and lots of questions and we do have to.  We have to do this because we have to ensure that we really get to know you and that’s because we are placing vulnerable children in people’s homes.  And as you can imagine its really important that we make sure that it’s the right thing for everybody involved.

Preparation training group

Spoken text:

You’ll be asked to complete the preparation training before you go to panel as its an important part of your assessment.  Its there to provide you with the skills and abilities needed to foster. And it reflects on the impact that fostering will have on your family. 

Foster carer’s stories

Spoken text:

This is a collection of some of our foster carers and their stories.

Fostering

Changing children’s lives

Spoken text:

You’re not going to save the world, coz you’re not, you’re going to change someone’s life.

The only difficulties are remembering all their birthdays.

I wasn’t really sure whether you could be a foster carer if you were, you know a single person, umm it turns out you can!  Laughing

If you’ve got space don’t hesitate coz you will get the support you’ll get the help that you need in order to help them get along.

Introduction to fostering

Music

Spoken text:

The assessment process, it’s a little bit like a series of umm interviews, which might sound a bit formal… 

Ros, Social worker

Spoken text:

But you’ll be assigned a social worker, who will come round to your house and you will spend time together kind of exploring and you know exploring about fostering. 

Ros enters Laura’s house

So we want to kind of get to know all about you really.

Laura and Ros sit on sofa

So, we will perhaps come an see you five or six times and each time we will kind of let you know what we’re going to be chatting about beforehand.  Often people might find it quite intrusive but its really important that we do a really robust and thorough assessment.

Ros is with David and Jill at a table

You know we’re placing looked after children with umm carers.

Ros sitting on sofa

So we need to know as much as we can about their background and what’s kind of made them want to foster, so that we can really understand their strengths and their skills so we can best place the child with them so we give the placement the best chance of success. 

Ilse chatting in the background to a child.

We have a really wide range of carers, you know we have single carers, we have same sex couples.

Sue and her family at the breakfast table

We have families who are fostering with grown-up children

Mavis feeding baby

Or their own younger biological children

Kevin opening bedroom curtain

Got people who umm work full time who are offering care

Jill placing books in bookcase

And we’ve people who perhaps one person is at home.

Ros sitting on sofa

Everybody wants to provide care for the child and that’s what they all have in common.

Laura

Spoken text:

My name is Laura I’m a single mom and I’ve been fostering for seven years.

Laura sat feeding baby speaking with her mum

I umm was probably about eight when my mum started fostering, so I’ve grown up living at home with foster children living with us.

Laura speaking sat on floor

So its been part of my life really and I always thought when I was older that I’d like to be a foster care as well.

For the last, you know, quite a few years I’ve had teenagers come, teenagers are going through quite a difficult time so I think if you can try and umm relate to how they’re feeling and maybe sort of think back, putting yourself in that situation, I think urr that helps and I think they like that as well. 

Sam & Paul

Spoken text:

We’re Sam and Paul and we’ve been fostering disabled children for five years.

Sam speaking sat on sofa

I have a disabled brother and I think that gives you some interaction with the world of foster carers and social work possibly that’s, that’s where it came from, because he used to have short breaks, so he went to a foster carer for one weekend a month and he had a lovely time there and they were lovely people.

Sam & Paul collecting the children from bus 

I don’t think you need any experience of working or….

Sam speaking sat on sofa

being with disabled children to foster disabled children because urmm…

Sam collecting the children from bus 

Oxfordshire give you a lot of training and support

Sam speaking sat on sofa

And whenever we wanted anything we would ask for it and we were always given, you know a positive response.  A lot people are scared of disabled children because they, because there’s an unknown there,

Children decorating biscuits

you need to be accepting, don’t you? Of the child

Paul speaking with Sam

You need to be accepting of what they are because they come formed in some, some way, already.  I mean, they have, they have developed into a direction. 

Sam speaking

With all fostering you, the rewards you get is when you see the progress of the children, when you see them develop when you see the difference that you’ve made to their lives. And with disabled children that can be extra special because when they make a step of progress or development and its often, you know, and even bigger (bridge) joy or joy.  Yes! Laughter

Its really great when you see them progress.

Sam speaking and children playing

The needs of any child are different and with the disabled child those needs may fall in a different area to a non-disabled child’s, but you know they’re the same as other children in that there will always be a different urm spectrum of needs with each child

Paul speaking with Sam

And a foster carer will need to learn about those needs when they, when they foster that child.

You might have a child that comes where there’s lots of things you need to improve on, lots of things that you need to change but you just choose one small thing at a time and, and try to work on changing that.  I guess if you consider it but are a bit afraid you could consider umm relief care first, umm,  because that is less, ur less  intensive I guess or at least it’s a commitment for a shorter time and then I’m sure you’ll find that it’s not as scary as you  might think, that’s wrong, if you have the space and the time to do it then go for it, (laughter) its really good, its really rewarding, absolutely.

Sue & Kev

Spoken text:

We’re Sue and Kev and we’ve been fostering 19 years. 

Sue and family in the kitchen cooking breakfast

I think the quality you have or will have to have or is, is good is to realise these kids don’t want money they don’t want things, they just want love and they want attention, they want your time. 

These kids that walk in the door don’t know us, they don’t know to trust us, they don’t know that we’re going to make good decisions for them so you’ve got to spend more time then you would normally in order to do things.  Letting the child know what’s going to go on what’s going to be expected so they’re not going to have big surprises because big surprises in their maybe previous lives or situations might have bean scary.  Over the years there’s been loads and loads of training, I’ve done some really good courses that have been really useful.  All of these things keep umm the fostering in the forefront of your mind, so you don’t get complacent so the more training you go on the more you thinking right I can deal with that, that way or I’ll do this, this way, so its really useful.  

Laughing and looking at picture

So yeah that’s why you bought that one “everything is going to be ok”

Bethan, Sue & Kev’s daughter

Spoken text:

Because of all the people’s lives that they’ve made a difference to, its.. you know it makes them heroes, Laughter I’m very proud of them.  Patience Laughter, a lot of patience, a kind heart, determination, you’ve got to have a lot of determination for that child.  Yeah, they are, I look up to them, I look up to my mum and dad.   

Kevin

Spoken text:

It does take work, it takes a lot of work, some of them come and that they just fit in and they’re very very easy, others come, come there and they test you, they always test, to see whether or not you actually can look after them, that could put people off but don’t let it, because you can, there’s a lot of support if you need it and there’s always someone you can talk to, to get advice.

Ilse

Spoken text:

My name’s Ilse I’m a single foster carer and I’ve been fostering for almost nine years.

Ilse and her children doing crafts and being in the kitchen

They become so ingrained in your whole family life that you know one day they walk in as strangers and before you know it they live here and they know where to get a cup from and they know how to get their own cereal, they just know this house like its their own.  You know that’s that moment you think wow and when did you stop being a stranger and becoming a complete part of this family, you know those are the really good moments.

You have to be open I think, and be able to just give everything, give all you’ve got and you have to be very patient, extremely patient and fun, we have a lot of fun in this house.

Sometimes when children come in to foster care their self-esteem is sort of, the rock bottom their faces are withdrawn and you know what you really want to do is just scoop them up and hug them and feed them really nice food and that isn’t  necessarily what they want.

The benefits of seeing them grow in to confident children are they will ask for things and they shine, you know they lift their chins up and they become really confident little people, and when it does happen they kind of blossom, those are the moments when you think ‘wow, you know we are doing a really good job.

Ilse’s adopted daughter

In her bedroom

Spoken text:

When foster children first arrive the way to make them feel welcome to your home, you like might play games with them, so they slowly feel a lot more welcomed, if they’re shy just make them laugh. It always works!  The good thing about having other foster children in the family is that if they’re feeling sad about things like you can relate to them and comfort them and say about its not all bad better things will come your way and stuff.

David & Jill

Spoken text:

Hi, we’re David and Jill, we’re foster carers short term, and we’ve been fostering for two and a half years.

David and Jill talking sat on sofa

David speaking

Our children were all in favour of us fostering two of them were still at home actually when we started partly because the approval process was quicker that we expected.  My daughter loved it, she had two years with us while we were fostering and for all our children its been a really positive experience. 

Jill speaking

And yeah then we decided that it really was what we were interested in, so we wanted to take it to the next level so David decided he would cut down his working hours, so he’s just working two days a week. 

David speaking

So, I work as a fusion scientist two days a week, I approve foster carers roughly one day a week and nine days a week I foster.  Laughter

Jill speaking

Yeah, the reality of it, yeah that its actually has happened and that were actually fostering and we’ve got these amazing little people in our homes you know, we yeah we couldn’t have foreseen that really. Yeah just exciting times and each day is new and exciting if a little tiring at times. For us its been such an amazing experience so if its something that you feel you know would be right for you then I would go for it and actually we found out when we went, did the training course that umm, there was a whole range of people and a whole range of different situations and all of them were able to think about fostering whether they go a bit house or a small house, already got a large family or no family, single parents, couples, I would just say go for it really.

Mavis & Neil

Spoken text:

 We are Mavis and Neil and we’ve been fostering for three years now we’ve got three children and we have a young unaccompanied minor with us who is fifteen years old.

Mavis

Spoken text

He’s been with us for about two months he came over form South Sudan, umm quite umm a traumatic really the journey for him and he’s doing well, he’s wanting to learn the language and get on with his life.  He calls me Mum bless him laughter he says I remind him of his mum laughter, so um, I’m really pleased that he’s pleased and hopefully we can offer him what he needs to actually grow up into you know a terrific young man.  One of the biggest myths I came across before I joined really was um people thinking, oh yeah I even thought that kids that come into foster care are all you know children with behaviour or abusive situations but its not about that its just kids that have been in unfortunately in situations and have had to come into care because of that situation.  Good boy (feeding baby)

You don’t have to have a kid that has drama perse you meet the child you talk to your social worker, they’ll tell you all about the child before you, you know before you even meet them and then you will get an opportunity to meet them with your own child to ask them questions that you’re all comfortable with having that person in your home before they actually come.

I didn’t really know what to expect, umm, what I can say is that I’m very, very pleased that I took the plunge, its been a challenge but its been an amazing challenge it hasn’t been uh, it hasn’t been very difficult for me and my family umm,  as a matter of fact its been a blessing for all of us.  Our children have grown up always having an older sibling you could say, I believe they’ve enjoyed this as much as me and my wife.

Mavis

Spoken text

I’d say if you’ve got the space in your heart and the space in your home don’t hesitate about fostering, because honestly there is one child out there that you can make a huge difference in their lives.

Don’t rule yourself out of fostering

Spoken text

A lot  of people rule themselves out of fostering because they think that they can’t do it, maybe because you’re single or because you think you’re too old, but that’s probably honestly not the case, you don’t have to be a certain age to foster, you can be single, you can be married, you can be in a same-sex couple.  We want to hear from you whatever your situation is and then we can talk to you about what fostering opportunities could fit in your life.

For more information

Spoken text

I hope you’ve enjoyed our fostering information meeting I expect you’ve got lots of things to think about and we’re here ready for you to ask any questions that you have or to take the next steps to become a foster carer.

Fostering really does change children’s lives

Spoken text

You could be that person that changes a child’s life, just having a caring adult in their lives makes a huge difference it changes how they see themselves and how they see their future.