Wednesday, October 04, 2017



Been a hectic period, I've had a lot on.

We've had an interesting time alright; and a moment of pure magic, one of those ones only fostering delivers.

It started with a phone call in the middle of the night.

I say 'The middle of the night", fact is once you're past the first flush of youth half past midnight is exactly that.

They were looking for an emergency home for the children of a family where an 'incident' had occurred and the police had been called.

All the adults in the house had been arrested and charged, leaving three junior-school aged children with no support.

I'll never forget the words I heard down the telephone;

"The usual emergency foster homes are busy. If you say no they'll have to spend the night at the police station."

I replied; "They have accommodation at police stations?"

"No, they'll have to be put in cells."

Short silence, then I said;

"Bring them here."

Well, what would you have done?

Emergency foster carers are a real lifeline, I don't know how they do it. In 'normal' fostering - if there is such a thing - you get a bit of time in advance and all available information about a potential placement so you can make up your mind if the child is likely to fit into your setup.

Compared to the rest of us the foster emergency carers fly by the seat of their pants. Not only that, the children are often re-located to a permanent home as quick as possible, so it's hello today and goodbye tomorrow, no chance of any useful attachment. 

Come to think of it, emergency care might suit some carers, especially start-ups who are looking to put their toe in the water. But boy, do you need to be adaptable.

So back to the middle of the night.

We are up and out of bed, throwing on clothes and trying to work out sleeping arrangements. No way do we have 3 beds in 3 separate bedrooms. We've one spare single room with bed, there's a sofa bed in the TV room off the kitchen, there's a big enough sofa in the living room, it'll all depend on what we make of the children when they arrive.

Unbelievably, Blue Sky's 24 hour officer is also slinging on clothes and is going to try to zoom to our house to be there for the children's arrival. You're never alone in fostering.

We started moving silently about the house, I rigged up the sofa bed, other half  got a sleeping bag from the cupboard under the stairs. One of us boiled a kettle, you can't foster properly without tea on the go. 

We're peering out into the street wondering who will turn up first when we hear someone on the stairs. It's senior foster child in dressing gown;

"Wo's goin' on?"

I explained. Foster child was up for it. Helping, I mean. This is what you are always hoping for, moments when they put their own woes to one side and start dishing out help and support. They get memories of what it was like to be taken into care, and let's face it unless you are a foster parent who yourself was a foster child (and there are quite a few) you don't know the feeling.

I outlined our sleeping plans.

"Nah." said foster child "You don't wanna sleep on some old sofa your first night in foster care. Not downstairs, not on your own."

"I'm going to stay up all night," I said, "To be awake if anyone gets frightened."

"Frightened?" said foster child "They're already sh**ing themselves ain't they."

Then this;

"They can have my bed."


"Put two of 'em in my bed. My bedroom's next to the spare room so they'll kind of be together."

You could have knocked me right across the room with the world's smallest feather.

I made more tea, three cups this time, after all there were three adults up and about in the wee small hours of the morning.

Three foster carers, two official, one unofficial.

I made it clear to our fledgling carer that we'd take up the kind offer provided it was appropriate and approved.

Headlights in the road.

Deep breath, head for front door...

To be continued.


  1. Oh goodness, this made me tear up. Its big to give up your bed too! You are all doing a fantastic job caring for the kids who need it the most. Police cells are scary enough for adults, let alone three kids. I know its a big ask to be emergency carers, we are transitional carers (in waiting...) the process has taken over six months with our agency. Kids are in need, we have a room ready and just waiting for our training weekend.

  2. Funny you should say you filled up, I had to blink away a couple of tears at the time!
    Fostering does this to you, as long as you have the energy left to take stock of how they grow and flourish.
    There are darker moments, let's be honest, and it's easy to get stuck thinking about the challenges.
    This is where our Blue Sky social worker comes in.
    She helps us focus on what is going right, the positives.
    Enjoy your training weekend.
    Life is about to become incredibly colourful.