Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Fostering is hard graft, gritty drama, some people call it a roller coaster. The roller coaster has it's highs and lows and so does fostering.

Today we had one of the highs. And lows.

The phone rang just before lunchtime, Blue Sky. Can we take a parent and child? An emergency. Mother and toddler need a bed same night.  

A parent and child is a specialist fostering job. If someone becomes an approved foster carer they have access to additional training before they take it on. It's a combination of supporting the child and supporting and assessing the parent.

Blue Sky explain on the phone the key details of the case.

I can't pass much of that on; the parent was a mum with a toddler. They had been in a foster home, but the placement had "broken down", meaning relations between the mum and the carers had reached a point where they couldn't be mended.

The phone call is a ten minute job. Blue Sky aren't offering you the placement, initially they are asking if you might say yes. 

We say yes in principle. From that moment you find yourself on a sort of a high. You get a big buzz about your life. The unknowns, the mystery, the risks, the potential for positives; love and healing. Negatives; failure and sadness. 

Who might the mother be? What sort of a person? How has her life come to this? Can we help?

What happened in this instance is that a local authority needed a foster home, fast. They contact everyone who might help, which if it's located anywhere across the south of England means Blue Sky gets a call.

After the initial phone call to ask if we are interested, we get the email with the full details.

We sit at the kitchen table reading up on the case. The local authority sends Blue Sky files of information such as the notes of the social worker who has been working on the case. It's always a fascinating read. The real-life story of someone who needs your help. You get other documents too. Sometimes a risk assessment which lays out anything and everything that might be a concern. One thing caught our eye.

The mum was described as being generally placid, but had been agitated sometimes on the phone. 

We sat and talked about this for a good few minutes. We could have talked about it all day, but when someone needs a bed the same night you haven't the luxury of time, you have to go with your gut. Maybe take a risk and extend a helping hand, to heck with minor worries.

We spotted a quote saying that it would be best if the mum and child were placed in a home that wasn't close to the place where the mum's mum lived, because there was tension there. From what we could deduce, the mum lived not far from us, so this might be an issue. But we had said yes, so now it was up to others to decide.

We spoke to the rest of our family, including the foster children. They were all excited about the possibility of even more hurly burly. We decided that we should have a quick shift around of beds, sort out towels and stock up on pot noodles and get the food processor out. We've got a big regular cot, but the toddler might need a cot bed, which we don't have at present, but which they might have, we'll only know that if the placement is confirmed. Plus we are short a stair gate; we let the last one go with the last toddler we had because they needed one at the toddler's new home, and we never asked for it back. But Tescos is open 24 hours, they do everything. Sorted.

You usually get a couple of hours between confirmation and arrival, even with an emergency placement. Enough to prepare the house.

Wait. We have friends coming for the weekend. Should we put them off? No. Why should we? 

We are all on tenterhooks, really alive with the whole situation. A bit trepidatious, but mostly invigorated, full of hope and expectation. 

There's no emotion like it, in my experience. It's a mix of giving birth, going on a blind date, first day in a new job, Christmas. Okay, and climbing into your seat on the roller coaster.

I'm not saying it's the best thing in the world, but it's one of my favourite buzzes, at this point in my life.

The phone rings about an hour after the first call. Is it a yes? 

It's a no. Problem with our location.  The mother's mum lives too close to us, she may bump into them accidentally and that could be bad.

No problem. Blue Sky thank us for being up for it. 

We say anytime. Until the next time. 

We delete the files about the case. Tell our household it's business as usual tonight.

I have an afterglow, I've had some elation and a small loss.

A high and a low.

And I'm right back in the line for another ride on the roller coaster.


Post a Comment