Tuesday, April 30, 2019

TIME TO FOSTER



I have to go back some to remember my early fostering days. It was a bit of a blur. I'm up to speed on what's what now, and what I know might be useful to people who are thinking about fostering.

Things have changed for the better. Fostering is now in better shape for the foster child and for the Foster Carer than ever before.

Would you believe that when I first got interested in fostering there was a shop in my high street with pictures in the shop window of children who needed a foster home. Can you credit that? I hardly can. But it was how some things were done then, I know.

Fostering has advanced in leaps and bounds.

What happens now is that prospective Foster Carers are more or less fostered themselves by their fostering agency. I can't say for sure if it's the same if you sign up with your local authority as I've only ever fostered with an agency. First you contact them and they make a quick decision on whether you might have what it takes. 

You get a visit from someone from the agency who basically runs the rule over you and your home. People shouldn't be put off by the idea of being given a checkout. It HAS to happen, that's surely  obvious. It would be a tragedy if a potentially wonderful Foster Carer who has the personality and wherewithal to help poor waifs and strays is put off by the idea of being assessed. I mean, look; if a child of yours had to go and stay at someone else's house for a while you'd want to know they'd been checked out right?

Always remember, the fostering agency (this goes for Blue Sky for sure) is on your side from the get go. Britain need more people in fostering, people from all walks of life, with all sorts of backgrounds, circumstances and personal histories.

Once you get that first green light, you're off on  a joyous journey through the approval process right up the the great day when you get your full approval rubber-stamped and find yourself in the heady heaven of waiting for your first foster child.

The approval process is not just painless, it's positively delightful. In a nutshell it consists mainly of someone visiting you at your home and listening to you as you go over your life. They are interested in who you are, who your family is and how your home works. I've done this process twice and both times I found myself really looking forward to each session.

Fostering needs people who have dealt with life's downs as well as the ups. Had a divorce? Got a tiny skeleton in the family closet? One of your own kids fallen foul of the law?
EVERYONE has a few things they think they'd better keep a low profile on. But your fostering visitor may ask you, with utmost sensitivity, to talk about them. Why? Because fostering is all about helping young people who are in crisis, and while it may not feel like it at the time, when we are handling the dramas and crises that sometimes pitches up in life, we are learning some of the skills we might need as a Foster Carer.

Can't get used to life in civvy street after a career in the armed forces? One of the very best Foster Carers I've met is an ex-squaddie, wow do his foster children respect him.

Worried about your age? I was privileged to meet a fantastic Foster Carer who was a widow aged 72. The most recent recruitment session I spoke at was attended by a couple in their young twenties.

Ethnicity and religion, gender preference are absolutely no issue at all. I understand why people are led to worry, thanks to the prejudices and unkindness of others, but there is NO room for any suchlike harshness in fostering, not an OUNCE. I promise.

I hope that if you are the one in a hundred who read the Secret Foster Carer and who is thinking of trying fostering, that toady is the day you make the call.

Please, please do.






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