I found there are many things you have to get used to when you start fostering, such as being at the ready at any time to get a phone call asking if you can take a child who might turn up within a couple of hours. Blue Sky advise you to keep a few things at the ready, such as some T shirts and track suit trousers of varying sizes because sometimes the child has only the clothes they’re standing up in. Cans of baked beans, a spare toothbrush. And the spare bed all ready made up with clean sheets, obviously.
ONE thing that I found took a bit of getting used to at first was training. Foster Carers are offered training sessions which happen at the Blue Sky office closest to where you live, about every few weeks or so.
YOU log on to the “Carers” section on the website and it gives you a timetable of the sessions that are planned, and a description of what they are about. The “Carers” section is private and you are given a password to get into it.
ONE or two of the training sessions are mandatory, things that you have to know or be refreshed about, such as First Aid, which makes sense obviously.
FIRST AID has to be taken every 3 years, it was the first training session I attended after being approved, and it was run by people from St Johns Ambulance. It was interesting and useful, for example I thought mouth-to-mouth was the thing to do if someone has stopped breathing but it turns out that they prefer you to concentrate on pumping the heart, while giving mouth-to-mouth at the same time. You get to practice resuscitation on dummies of children of different ages which is also useful. With an adult you press down on the chest with both hands and your body weight. With an infant you just use the tips of your first two fingers.
BUT the thing I found I had to overcome with training was the feeling of going back to school. I don’t care what anyone says, no-one really liked school. I didn’t, my children don’t, none of the foster children I’ve had would rather go to school than not go to school. So going “back to school” calls for a big breath, but it’s well worth the effort.
WHEN I started going to Foster Training I remembered that the only time I’d been in a class since leaving school was when I signed up to do an eight week Aromatherapy course at our local FE College, and I found myself getting worried about being late, sounding stupid if I answered questions wrongly, or getting into trouble if I shared a joke with the person next to me.
A while ago I was late arriving at A Blue Sky training session being run by a retired police officer. I was nearly twenty minutes late. I listened through the door and could hear a loud, confident male voice in full flow, but I managed to knock (feebly) on the door, and open it enough to look in.
HE said “Hello! Welcome. Thank you for coming, please come in, let me find you a seat. You haven’t missed a great deal. If you like I’ll go over my introduction with you when we break for coffee.”
SO. Not like school at all!
WELL, there is one aspect that’s a bit like school, making friends. When you break for coffee during training sessions, that’s when you find yourself bonding, because everyone is in the same boat, and has plenty to talk about, and you find yourself swapping phone numbers or even arranging to meet up for coffee at one of your houses.