When you begin your fostering career with The CFT – there may be apprehensions that may not fully present themselves until you’re in the thick of your first placement. Lisa and Darren started fostering through providing short break care for a 12 year old girl.
Having struggled at school and in her previous foster home, things escalated quickly.
Read how Lisa went from respite fostering to long term overnight.
What made you consider becoming a foster carer?
Darren and I always talked about fostering and agreed to look at it when our children were older. My 20-year career has been in childcare with different age groups and abilities – I worked in day nurseries, a respite unit, a special school and I was a childminder for 4 years.
I decided this work wasn’t really for me and was unsure what to do next. We then started to talk about fostering again and although my children were at home, Erin was 10, Leah was 15 and Jordan was 20, we had lots of conversations with them about it and they were all happy with the idea. Ideally, they all said they would like a child younger than Erin.
What made you pick The CFT?
We started to look on the internet at different agencies, I noticed The CFT are based In Bromsgrove and were attending a job’s fair in Coventry, at the time Darren and my brother were looking at new opportunities so we went along. Darren and I had a chat with the ladies on the stall and they took our number.
I took some time to research them and liked that they’re an independent children’s charity and it sounded like there was a lot of support and training provided.
How did you find the assessment process, did you feel fully supported throughout?
The manager at the charity came out to us and talked through what would happen next, we were already firm in our decision so we started the assessment process as soon as possible.
It was difficult at first but the social worker made us feel comfortable and took each step at a good pace. It made us feel at ease.
With your first placement, how did you settle into a routine? Were there any particular difficulties?
We were accepted to become foster parents in December, we were then asked to do short break for a week at the beginning of January. It was for a 12-year-old girl who was struggling at school and her foster home.
The week went well, everyone seemed to get on!
I had to collect her from school a couple of times for certain behaviours but otherwise, having her was a great experience.
She went back to her foster home and a day later we got a call to ask if we would consider having her come live with us! We spoke to our children and they all agreed that although she was older than Erin.
She came to live with us two days after she had gone back from her break.
Did you feel any nervousness or anxiety? How did you overcome those feelings?
It was strange at first and I felt very overwhelmed at times. I would go into my girl’s rooms and ask “had we done the right thing?”
I think I was worried about how they felt – We’d had this new person come live with us and she needed a lot of attention. The girls reassured me straight away and were both very grown-up.
After getting to know one another we were all a lot more comfortable and it felt absolutely normal; it’s like she’s always been here, it would be weird without her!
There have been some ups and downs, working through emotions and difficult times but we are open, honest and talk a lot which really helps. We let her be herself.
They are like all siblings, they get on one minute and then bicker the next, they stick up for each and will gang up when we’re debating!
Has fostering affected your lives beyond your placement?
Fast forward almost two years and my son had moved into his own place and is also considering becoming a foster carer.
A family member approached us and asked if we would help her son, he was 10 months old but born 3 months premature. They were going to put him up for adoption and we decided the best place for him was with his family, so we took him into our home.
He came just before Christmas and it was lovely to have him around. Although tiring at first we got used to it and is now in a good routine and seems to be meeting his development milestones.
We are now taking in his little sister who is nearly 2 months old.
If you were to give foster carers any advice, what would it be?
One piece of advice would be to open up and share ideas! The CFT has been so supportive through our fostering experience so far, there are lots of training and team meetings and they really appreciate our input.
They support us with our foster children and birth children, both are included in everything. They offer days out in the holidays where we meet other foster parents and children, they take foster and birth children away to PGL for the weekend which provided great bonding time for them and a break for us.
There are so many opportunities to talk with other carers which is so good to have.
Although fostering has not been how we thought it might be, it has been the best experience so far and I feel like I’m doing something good for children who really need it. We have a lot of patience (most of the time), empathy and room in our hearts and home.
We are excited to continue fostering and look forward to a big family in our life.
Short break fostering turned long term
It’s natural for apprehensions, concerns and doubts to present themselves throughout a fostering career. Without a base level of experience, it can be difficult to acknowledge the skills within you that make you a fantastic foster carer.
Lisa’s story defines how those doubts can be totally unfounded and through open discussion with The CFT and opening up your family to a young person who is struggling can revolutionise behaviours that have previously been challenging.