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What does it take to be a foster carer?

FOSTERCARE UK is an independent, family focused fostering agency that believe in creating foster care placements which put the child and young person at the centre of what they do. They place children and young people from a wide variety of backgrounds and specialise in a number of placement types.
Here, two families share their experiences of working with the agency.

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CASE STUDY
Andre and Sandra

Andre & Sandra’s experience as foster carers
“Before we decided to go into foster caring we took a lot of time to consider how it would impact on our lives, but we knew that a lot of children are in need. We’ve found being foster carers a very rewarding experience and it’s going well. We have been able to watch the change in the children from when they first came to us and that’s priceless. At the start of the placement one of the children wasn’t attending school, and through our work with them he hasn’t missed a day recently; even his teachers have noticed the change in him. It’s remarkable to be able to help turn someone’s life around.

We’ve always had children around us so when we started fostering we just fell back into it with ease. We’ve learnt that whether you’re a parent or a foster carer, it’s important to respect the children and listen to their views and opinions.

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A FOSTER CARER?
Being a foster carer has to be right for the individual. You have to really want to do something like this. However, if people can see the outcome of the children as the result of a successful placement then they would see the benefits. It’s about a commitment to the children, and considering the positive affect you can have on their lives.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO POTENTIAL FOSTER CARERS TO BE HONEST ABOUT THE UPS AND DOWNS?
"It’s definitely best to be honest, as it’s not always sweet and rosy. Yes it can be challenging as you go through the tough times, but it’s better to be aware of this so you’re fully prepared both physically and emotionally.”

WHY FOSTERCARE UK?
Friends were already fostering with the agency and told us of the experience they had; receiving a lot of help and support throughout. We’ve found the continuous training in particular to be invaluable.

Name: Andre and Sandra
Age: 58 and 54
Status: Full-time foster carers
Location: London
Total time fostering: One year
Foster children: Two
Birth children: Six, who have left home

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CASE STUDY
Paul

Paul’s experience as a foster carer
“I didn’t choose to be a foster carer, it chose me. Two friends were already foster carers with FosterCare UK, caring for two boys, and I had witnessed their journey as they developed. I felt that as I’d already brought up my own two children on my own, I could do it again. I have always had a passion and desire to help young people.

“It was a really good decision, though there have been many challenges along the way of course. Even though you have a lifetime of skills and experience from raising your own children, you can never be fully prepared for the challenges the young people in care come with. But, there are always the highs that remind you of why you do it. When my foster son first came to me he wouldn’t speak, even to say ‘morning’ or ‘thank you’. But, through little steps we turned this around, now he says ‘morning’ twice and has conversations! It took a long time, but it’s a huge step forward. Sometimes you feel like you’re not helping, especially when you’ve had a particularly negative experience, but then you notice a small change and you’re reminded of how far you’ve both come. You know you’re making a difference. I’d recommend it to anyone.”

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A FOSTER CARER?
“You need empathy so you can understand what they’ve been through, how they’re feeling and how you can help a child deal with the situation. It takes a lot of patience, resilience and caring. You also need to know when to give a child their space – sometimes they push you away so you need to give them time to come to you.”

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO POTENTIAL FOSTER CARERS TO BE HONEST ABOUT THE UPS AND DOWNS?
“It’s so important to know. It’s not just about discussing the rewards, you need to know about the hard times as well to ensure you have all the details necessary to make a fully informed decision.”

WHY FOSTERCARE UK?
“I spoke to friends who were foster carers with FosterCare UK and they told me about the support they receive when compared with others’ experiences from competing agencies. It gave me a lot of confidence in their ability.”

Name: Paul
Age: 54
Status: Single, full time
Location: London
Total time fostering: 1 year
Foster children: One son, for nine months
Birth children: Two daughters

Please get in touch if you feel fostering could be for you and your family. Telephone 0844 800 1941 or email, enquiries@fostercareuk.co.uk / fostering@fostercareuk.co.uk

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