Caring for all ages
This is Sam & Jeff’s Story
Sam: We had a knock on the door one day from one of our elder daughter’s friends who had been chucked out of her boyfriend’s house, and then we were then asked to foster her through the Friends & Family fostering team. We made quite a bit of difference to the young lady that we looked after and we managed to get her through her GCSEs and her exams and she did quite well.
What’s important when fostering?
Jeff: Being there when they need you.
Jeff: Yes, stability. Sometimes the loving side, sometimes they just want to cuddle. And if it’s teenagers, it’s being there for education.
Sam: With teenagers, you’ve got to get that balance of boundaries and being sort of like a friend as well as a carer so they get both sides. With the little ones it’s the love and the care and the building blocks they haven’t had when they were younger. We had one little girl that came to us at the age of three and couldn’t speak, within four months she was speaking fluently, and she was at nursery and she made remarkable progress didn’t she?
What should you do when thinking about fostering?
Jeff: I would talk to other foster carers if you can about how they found it, go to information evenings if you can, go on the website, if you know any social workers talk to them.
Sam: Get as much information as you can.
Jeff: Talk to your family as well as your family will be impacted in it, if you’ve got children talk to them because they will just a part of it as you are and you need them as much as they need you.
What was the assessment process like?
Sam: It’s quite therapeutic, isn’t it?
Jeff: It was yes.
Sam: You’ve got to be honest, there’s no point sitting through the assessment trying to hide things. You’ve got to be honest from the first.
Jeff: Overall, it’s a good experience and one I really liked, and there was a good outcome at the end.
What qualities do you need?
Sam: You need to be calm and be able to talk things through rather than shout. We find that a big part of fostering, the children that come into your care may even see you talking to them normally as you shouting, so you need to be very, very calm and talk things through, and also talk to them at the level they are currently at. So you might have a ten year child old but he or she might be at the level of a five or six year old so you’ve then got to go down and talk to them in language they understand otherwise you won’t be able to communicate with them at all.
Sam: Boundaries are a big, big part of fostering.
Jeff: Kids need to be safe when they come into your house. They need to know if they do A then B will be the consequence. You set up routines for them so they know what bedtime is and what the routine is for bedtime, and if they misbehave there’s consequences and you tell them what they are. And then rewards as well, it’s not just a boundaries, so if they do something well you reward them in a positive way.
How long will you foster for?
Jeff: We’ve given up work to be full time, as I like to call it,professional foster carers, and it’s something we want to do until we retire.