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Contribution by Mrs. B. (Newcastle)

I would like to contribute some of my ( and partners) experiences as Foster Carers in the hope it will help new or potential Foster Carers make informed choices.

  We have cared for a total of 10 children, both long and short term for over 15 year period. I believe we are amongst some of the most misunderstood and misrepresented workers in our society. We all know that there is a variety of perceptions out there about Foster Carers, ranging from are they just financially motivated? -or are they just plain stupid for doing it? or even heartless when we have to move a child on?. Some of these perceptions and attitudes really do hurt and get to me sometimes. I  cannot and will not speak on behalf of all Foster Carers - but I believe I  am are trying our best to give better life chances, heal wounds, inspire, motivate and guide the children we have been responsible for to move on from the often painful past they have been subjected to. My reasons for being a Foster carer couldn't be clearer to me. But my advice to new or potential carers is to be very honest with yourself about why you want to do it and be truly honest with yourself as to checking if you have the right skills, knowledge and resilience to give you the best possible chance of making a difference to some very hurt and damaged children.

 Lets get real - caring for a child long or short term with emotional  problems and/or challenging behaviour, 24hrs seven days a week can be very  demanding (as we have experienced with at least 6 of the children we have cared for). This can cause strain on yourself, partnerships, friendships, family and own children if you have them, like we do. Fostering is not for everyone! And you do feel at times that Social Workers do not quite understand the complexities involved - however well intentioned. So do not rely on them to truly get what you are saying or able to help you. The biggest resource for support has to ultimately be yourself.

  But when you do see progress or development of the child or children you are caring for it can be the best feeling in the world, happiness for them but also a sense of payback for all the intense work you have put in. It is at these times that any thoughts of regrets go out of the window. But again to keep it real you can have a profound sense of frustration and failure when you feel all your efforts have come to nothing. So for future Foster Carers expect both experiences as something you may have to encounter.

 It can be a thankless and lonely job we do, but when it works for the child that’s all that really matters- are you up for the challenge?

 Mrs. B. (Newcastle)

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