Wednesday, October 31, 2018


So, (see previous post) how did things pan out for Sue and Angie?

Before I tell it's important to reiterate that support meetings depend on the confidence of all attending. Foster parents need to be able to talk openly amongst each other about things happening in their fostering world and that means they don't want to have to worry that anyone might take something out of context or be misquoted. 

This doesn't mean that support meetings are any kind of secret society, just that people's privacy is given proper respect.

With this in mind I've taken the precaution of getting agreement to recount the outcome of Angie's request to go home with everyone who might be affected - except Angie. I'm ensuring her privacy is entirely protected by tweaking aspects of the episode so that the essentials are preserved but the identity of Angie, Sue and the foster family can never be perceived. 

It helps that everyone comes out of it so well; in fact I think it's inspirational.

Angie expressed a wish to leave her foster home, and it was discovered that her motive was that she wanted to look after her real mum who is what's often described as 'chaotic'. Painful for Sue (Angie's foster mother) but profoundly positive for Angie (and Sue) that Angie's fostering experience had been so positive and valuable that she wanted to try to do for her mum what Sue had done for her.

Once Sue cottoned onto this she lost all sense of rejection and began to appreciate her work with Angie.

The social workers felt that Angie was indeed grown up enough to help her mum in many ways, but it wouldn't be fair to cut her loose in the world. There's more to looking after an adult than cooking and cleaning; there's the labyrinth of the benefit system for a start - and plenty of other bureaucracies and paperwork to confuse the most willing teenager.

But things started moving, and it's funny how once something gets a bit of good momentum all sorts of things happen. First off Angie's older sister re-appeared on the scene and offered to move in with the mum and do her share, but said she'd value Angie's help. 
We foster carers had gathered around Sue to help her with the emotions and practicalities of what was going on. Then Angie's mum's social worker got together with the other social workers and they came up with a plan. 

Angie would stay with Sue (provided Angie agreed - by the time a 'child' is nearly 17 their views are of the highest importance), but would go to her mum's at weekends and some evenings to help.

The arrangement would be under constant review, with a view to allowing Angie to move back to her mum when the time is right.

End result; everyone happy.

More than merely 'happy', everyone was delighted and relieved.

It's not the first time we've had a round of applause at a support meeting, but it was the loudest and the longest for a long time.

Everyone had played a part in this great outcome. Sue, Angie, the other foster carers and the social workers.

At the risk of sounding like someone I'm not; I felt proud to be part of a system that puts so much expertise and good heart into helping broken lives. Proud to live in a country where this goes on day after day, usually unnoticed and unsung.

Proud to foster.


  1. Thanks for the excellent post once again. I've got my first support meeting next week. Am a bit nervous to be honest.
    I've been doing respite a couple of weeks now and have had three kids (not at once) - 5yo girl, 6yo boy, and 16yo boy. The 16yo is going to become regular at once a month too. It's very exciting and I'm glad I've gotten my first few kids under my belt. They all seems to have both a fun and relaxing time. So far I'd say the older lad was easier than the little ones but perhaps I'm a bit nuts :)

  2. Glad you've hit the ground running Dana. I'm sure your first support meeting will be fun, it's great being surrounded by people who are doing what you do. You're spot on about the difference between little ones and older ones, but I suspect you are adapting yourself to each set of needs no problem.

    1. Yeah its all going well so far. Had my first 'review' meeting too. I guess its a bit like informal feedback. It wasnt really like a review meeting one might have in an office job. All good so far.
      I've learnt more from the kids so far though than my proper meetings to be honest. The 16yo boy reviewed me like I was a hotel, it was funny but he had some valid points. He himself did ask his SW if he could return though.
      The little kids and the older boy needed totally different levels of supervision vs space, attention, levels of conversation etc. Mostly the little kids wanted to play,and the older boy, relax with DVDs and have a natter about nothing in particular. I myself could get more of my own things done with the older boy here, and I gave him a key for the time he was here, which I think boosted his self-esteem a bit. Older boy was intriguing. He appears tough, but when I cleaned the spare room after he'd left I realised he'd slept in the bed with the teddy bears which had been on the shelf, and when I wasnt looking, he'd been feeding my cats treats despite saying he wasnt into cats.
      so far the pets have been a great help too. All the kids have liked them, and the 6yo boy in particular was obsessed. Sad though, 5yo girl had never heard a cat's purr before.
      Next up I believe I have a 13yo boy then a 16yo girl, but things could also change before then. Never know. This week I'm having a week off though.


    2. Wow, this all spiunds

      Hey Dana; this is all great to hear, thank you for sharing with everyone.
      Maybe you'll allow my thoughts on your experience so far? First off; you're spot on about learning the job as you go. No amount of advice or preparation can ready you for the moment on your first placement when the social worker departs and it's you and the child.
      I love your appliance of brainwork, especially in your phrase 'space vs supervision'. That's the gig in a nutshell. And every child is different, and changes in their needs almost moment by moment.
      He wants back! Is there any greater credential!? Well done you.
      As for the hotel revue; I blame Four In a Bed.

    3. Agreed that nothing can prepare you for meeting a kid for the first time. I've only have three, but all those meetings were different. None of the kids were like their referral descriptions either. Good thing I asked extra qs.
      Whilst I've only had three respite kids so far I took one of them to social club for kids in care, and met around another 20 plus their carers. That was both fun, but sad; just thinking all these kids (aged 2-16 they were) are in care.
      Yep older boy reviewed me. Doesn't mean I'll do everything he says mind, as next child will probably have totally different needs and views. But within reason and budget I'm fairly easy, as I have to remember I'm making a child-free house into a child friendly one. He said:
      TV signal is a bit patchy (!)
      You've got wooden floors, bedroom would be warmer with a carpet
      You don't own an iron- i wanted to iron my top (!)
      You thought about putting in a seating area outside rather than just having all plants (!)
      On the plus - I really liked all the plants in the bathroom - feels tropical
      Only other plus, as he left he said 'thanks for the weekend, it wasnt as [swear word] as I thought it'd be.'

      Was quite sad though in that he'd clearly been to respite before. As soon as he got here he put his things in his room, asked how the shower worked, and where everything was in the kitchen. All said matter-of-factly.
      Yep he's coming back in the New Year. My understanding is I'm first respite carer whose agreed to have him back. Maybe people don't like teenagers as much as little ones? If so, I wonder why, as he was far 'easier' than little kids who were full of energy. He slept in too instead of waking up 6am!

  3. ps "Spiunds" is how Trump spells "Splendid"

  4. Thanks Dana, it's really engaging to get your feedback and your reaction to it. We're learning a lot from you.
    I wonder if the deeper and richer the life of the foster carer the more value they can bring to older children. They are attending the school of hard knocks and a carer who has been round the block a few times and learned some things the hard way is going to be more on their wavelength. Young ones are often in need of constant attention and the things you get back in return for your efforts are things that you have to perceive for yourself such as their gradual sense of belonging in your company.
    You seem to have taken to fostering like that duck to water they talk about. Well done in every respect.
    Keep us posted, I happen to know a lot of people look forward to your news.