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 Please help build this information base, share your Fostering experiences.
All stories welcomed.
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Contribution by T H (Portsmouth)

First of all I would like to say what a wonderful idea you have come up with - there is certainly a lack of real experiences to access from Foster Carers actually doing the work with some of the most needy children and young people in our society. Therefore, I am more than willing to share some of my experiences  - in the hope some people will find it useful.

I found the actual assessment process to become a Foster Carer relatively easy to get through - I actually thought it would be more in depth and probing than it actually was - which raises the concern for me -is the assessment process actually too easy, thus allowing a low standard of Foster Carers to be accepted. I do feel there is a danger that if you say the right things this will be accepted on face value. Is this because there is such a shortage of Foster Carers, local authorities and agencies have low thresholds? How can the assessment process be improved?

However, after being accepted, I was assured that a thorough matching process takes place to ensure that the right children are properly matched to the prospective Foster Carer. Again, I found this not to be the actual case in all circumstances. I believe from my experience, the urgency to place a child or young person can lead to inappropriate placements, resulting, in some cases to severe problems for Carers and of course the child or young
person. Especially if there is a placement breakdown, with everyone concerned feeling a failure and for the child possibly being emotionally hurt or damaged further. My advice to new Foster Carers is to be assertive and actively involved in all discussions about the matching process. Do not feel intimidated (easier said than done when you are trusting so called professionals to be making the correct decisions in the best interest of the child). Also recognise this is a life changing experience for you and the potential child, so the need to get this initial matching process right is incredibly important.

Remember that a Foster Carer is an incredibly important resource to the Local Authority/Agency, and without dedicated and high quality Carers the care system would be in a mess. Demand that you are treated as providing a professional service and that you are treated as such. Too many Foster Carers do not feel there role is treated with the respect it deserves and encounter practices that demonstrate this from the so called professionals connected with Social Services (although this is not always the case, and their are some excellent Social Workers who seem to appreciate the service we provide and the highly complex issues involved in being a carer).

Do not be afraid to challenge or question - the Social Workers do not always get it right - your views and opinions should be taken notice of!!

You have a voice use it! One of the roles of a Foster Carer is to act as an advocate for the child or young person in your care. If you feel that decisions are being made without your involvement- question, question and question again, you may be completely right!!

Through the difficult times in caring for children or young people, seek support from other carers or your supporting Social Worker, do not struggle in silence thinking you will be labelled as incompetent - ultimately you want it to work out for the child and early intervention is better than crisis intervention, when things might have gone too far to rescue.

Keep revisiting your motivation for being a carer, this may allow you to regain the energy and determination to get through the difficult times.

Our role as carers is invaluable in trying to heal some of the hurt children and young people have experienced and trying to create a better future for these vulnerable youngsters and keep hold of the view that without us many many children and young people would have an even more difficult life. From my own experience we can make a very real and meaningful difference, so if you feel disrespected, undervalued or disempowered, remember, ultimately our duty is to try to provide the best possible outcomes for Looked After children - and this in itself is so rewarding.

Good luck to all new Foster Carers you are truly embarking on a life changing journey (please believe it will change your life on every level!)


T H (Portsmouth) - Foster Carer for over 12years.

PS I will be visiting this important site on a regular basis and can only urge other Carers to share their experiences, and I hope to contribute more in the future - there is so much to share!!!

Please help build this information base, share your Fostering experiences.
All stories welcomed.
Please Click Here to send your contribution.

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