In the next installment of our ‘Intriguing Careers’ series, I interviewed a foster carer, who wishes to remain anonymous, about what fostering involves.
How did you get into fostering?
I have always wanted to work with children and was initially a children’s nanny. However, after the birth of our second son, I realised I was leaving him to look after other people’s children which didn’t seem right. A family friend of ours fostered at the time and told us about the rewards of fostering and it seemed a good way of working from home and being at home for my children, whilst making a difference to another child’s life. It was a long process and a lot of background information was needed but they decided we could foster. We have now been fostering for 15 years in November this year.
What’s your favourite thing about fostering?
My favourite thing about fostering is knowing we have made a difference to another child’s life and we have managed to keep them safe and take them away from potential harm. It is also being able to see them achieve knowing they now feel safe.
What good opportunities have you had from your work?
Whilst fostering I have had several opportunities from meeting new people, an extensive training portfolio to enable me to give better care and understanding to children we have cared for, I have been able to work from home. I also think it has made me a more tolerant person towards those with background issues and has made me thankful for what we have as a family.
What is the most challenging aspect of fostering?
There are several challenging aspects about fostering and they change depending on who we have in the house and over the years. When our sons were younger the most challenging bit was when foster placements broke their toys or were mean to them but over the years and plenty of training I came to realise it was their circumstances of abuse and maltreatment that made them act in that way and that they were merely testing us to see if they would be punished in an abusive way as that is all they knew. Nowadays, the most challenging things are when a young person goes missing and you have to stay up until 3am waiting for the police to search your house. I also find it challenging when we have to say goodbye to babies as you build secure attachments with them and then have to let go.
Do you have to alter your relationship with the children as you know they will move on?
We try not to change our relationship with children when we discover they have to move on, but I think instinctively you do start to detach from them emotionally, especially if they are going to be adopted, as you know they need to re-attach to their new forever family. However, if you know they are moving on to supported lodgings due to their age, I think although you do slightly detach yourself, you equally allow them to stay attached and feel secure and a safe place to return to for support.
How do you feel when children leave?
I always feel emotional and sad when placements leave and at times worry if I feel the move isn’t in their best interests and is purely done to save local authorities money. I also feel proud to think that I have been part of their life and made a difference regardless of how small.
Local authorities and fostering agencies are always on the lookout for foster carers, so if you are over 21, have a spare room and are a UK resident, or know anyone that would be interested, contact the local council to find out more.