What does a typical week look like for a foster carer? The answer: there is no typical week!
With children to care for, meetings to attend, paperwork to complete, there is never a dull moment in our lives as foster carers. What do we enjoy about being foster carers? The fun and privilege of being part of the children and young peopleâ€™s lives that we care for and the great sense of pride we get from our young peopleâ€™s achievements. Each day is very different.
Hereâ€™s what my week has been likeâ€¦
Session for my mentoring qualification
Iâ€™m training to be a mentor to people who are going through the process of becoming foster carers. The people I will be mentoring will be in the middle of having their application assessed; I will take them to theÂ assessment panel and into the early stages of their fostering careers. Itâ€™s a real privilege to be a part of someone elseâ€™s journey.
Helping to deliver the â€œjourney to fosterâ€ course
This is theÂ trainingÂ that Foster Care Associates gives to people who are going through the process of becoming a foster carer. It tells them exactly what fostering involves and itâ€™s great to be able to give my perspective as someone whoâ€™s already foster caring.
Asylum seeking training
Thereâ€™s always lots to learn when you become a foster carer so I try to take part inÂ trainingÂ wherever I can. The asylum seeking course helped me to understand more about the journey these individuals have been on â€“ how their lives could be in danger and that they may have been travelling through various countries for many weeks and months.
It also taught me about some of the issues and considerations I would need to take into account if I were to foster an asylum-seeking young person. For example, language barriers, meetings with the Home Office and not always being sure how old they are. Now I feel that if a referral came to us for an asylum-seeking young person, I would be able to make an informed decision as to whether my family would be able to work with them. An exciting challenge.
Bike ride, cinema trip and a day at the seaside
Spending some fun time as a family is really important, and this week we had a lovely day out at the beach as well as a bike ride and a cinema trip. At the beach we made a sand castle, visited the Sea Life Centre, went on the fairground rides, laughed, relaxed and had fun, and ate doughnuts!
This time is very important as we all have different needs and our various schedules often pull us in different directions. Â By ensuring that we have this time out together, it allows us to be all together as a family, despite our circumstances. It is all about family time and getting to know each other better.
We had a meeting with the birth parents of the child Iâ€™m looking after this week. These sessions are always emotional when a young person does not see their family for a few weeks at a time, so for me it is all about managing their expectations and problem solving should the need arise. These sessions do have the ability to make me sad and angry, especially if due to an admin error sessions goes wrong. Â However, I try to keep my feelings to myself, and always promote positive contact, for the best interest of the child.
And not forgetting of course, the daily household chores, lunch boxes, school runs and homework, oh and an impromptu meeting with a class teacher!
Expect the unexpected, learn and grow together, teach life skills, and laugh lots. The rewards are amazing. Â Why notÂ start your fostering journey?
Words by Nicola Webb, foster carer.