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Foster carer diary

I had an interest in fostering for years but I also felt that it was pointless looking into this as I felt that numerous aspects of my life would make me an unsuitable candidate.

FCF17

Contact usI always thought that a person could not foster if they smoke or have pets.  These are barriers that applied to me and so for a long time I didn't look any further into it.  There were also other factors that I was sure would count me out of fostering, such as being single and living in rented accommodation.

A work friend approached me to ask for a reference as she was applying to foster and so I started asking questions about the experiences that she had in those initial stages.  I mentioned to her some of the things I felt would prevent me being able to foster and she encouraged me to attend an information evening to get a more realistic picture of the types of people who would be suitable.

After attending the information evening and speaking with the social workers from the foster team I felt that I would have a lot to offer as a foster carer and felt reassured that it would be worthwhile pursuing. I was invited to and attended a Prep training course which gave me a great insight into the ins and outs fostering and an opportunity to meet and talk to others who want be foster carers.

A social worker was able to work with me over a number of months to complete the application for fostering.  The worker gave me a good idea what to expect from the process and encouraged me not to feel uncomfortable about the detail of the questions asked about my life.  Initially I felt the process was very involved, it seemed that they wanted a detailed picture of my life history.  This included information about my own upbringing and early family life, significant relationships that I have had, education and employment history, interests, support network.  They also asked a lot of questions about my accommodation and finances, reasons I would like to foster as well as my expectations for fostering.  They also asked me to provide details of references they could contact, a medical assessment also a DBS check.  This seemed like a long process but it was a great opportunity as I was also given training and had a chance to build a good relationship with the assessing social worker.

The social worker was very reassuring when I spoke about things in my history that I felt may be barriers to me being approved.  She always encouraged me to consider how much consideration I felt would be necessary for me to feel my child was safe and living with a foster carer.  She was also focused on building an honest picture of my life and constantly reassuring me that honesty and trust were vital and so they were not looking for a perfect person and that some life experience is seen positively as this shows that I have lived through good and bad experiences and learned from this.

When the application was finished and approved I felt the greatest sense of achievement that I got this far, but suddenly I started to panic as it was all becoming very real.  Although I was nervous, I felt totally supported through specific training on things I felt unsure of; such as daily recordings, managing challenging behaviour and supporting a child with contact with birth family.  I also attended training on safe caring, which focused on how to keep a child in my care safe, but also guided me on establishing boundaries that made me feel safe too.  I was also aware that I could contact the team during office hours for advice but also that there is a local foster line that I could utilise and an emergency duty team to support me with any issues that arise on the weekend and after hours.  I was prepared and ready to go.

And here I am...fostering.  The first child to be placed with me was a 6-year old girl called Ellie.  The toughest thing to start off with was getting to know her.  She was so shy and she had been to a few foster carers before me, so although I wanted her to feel at home I didn't want to bombard her.  After a few weeks we both got into the swing of things.  So here I am.  This is a sneak peek of two weeks as a foster carer...

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