What helps you decide?
When I first became a foster carer with Fostering UK, I really thought that I would only want to care for children short term, probably because I am a bit older, and my children had grown up. My assessing social worker talked me through the types of placements that are needed, have a look at the Fostering UK website as this explains what they all mean. To begin with I took children that were short term placements, and I had a few that were emergency placements too. They were amazing and I really liked the challenge of taking emergency placements, they kept me on my toes. These children were all with me while the courts decided what was going to be the plan for their future. Some were placed for adoption, they were the younger children , some went back to their family and then there was Bobby, the court decided that long term foster care was the best long term solution that would fully meet his needs. The rest is history and Bobby still lives with me today. It has meant that Bobby has had a long term stable home with me and I really do feel that I have made a long lasting impact on his life, I really feel that he has become part of the family and I treat as though he were my own child.
“One day Bobby, (he was 16 at the time) asked me why he has a different surname to the rest of the family, of course I explained carefully……… the next thing I knew was that he had asked his social worker if he could change his surname to ours……… wow, that really melted my heart, he really has accepted us as his family ”
– Jenny, long-term foster carer.
Is there a need for more long term foster carers ?
I never really thought that there was such a need for long term foster carers and if I am honest, it was never something I really thought of initially. Now, I really understand and appreciate the positive impact that providing a child with a long-term home can have on that child. They experience growing up in a safe, stable, loving and caring home where they become part of the family. You ask my Bobby; he will tell you he is never leaving! When he said that I secretly sighed with relief as I didn’t want him to leave. That’s the good thing with long term foster care, you can care for the children until 18 and beyond as you would your own child. I really enjoy being a long-term foster carer and I cannot tell you how much it means to me to be able to make a lasting difference to a child’s life. Fostering UK continues to provide me with the support I need, just because I am a long term foster carer I still feel part of the Fostering UK family. The support they offer is amazing.
Do I need to be something special to be a long term foster carer?
Long term fostering is like any other type of fostering, you need to be compassionate, patient, loving, resilient, committed and of course, a good sense of humour goes a long way. The desire to make a difference to a child’s life is a must and if you become a long term foster carer you get the greatest chance of doing that. Bobby was a great match for our family, he fits right in. Fostering UK made sure of that, and I am really pleased, he loves my adult lads, and they are really good role models for him. They have taught him to skate, he will be heading for the championships soon. I really am just an ordinary person with the desire to help a child, that’s all it takes.
You don’t have to be a short term foster carer first before becoming a long term foster carer, that’s just how it worked out for me.
Will I still get training and support?
Fostering UK provides all its foster carers with an excellent package of pay and support. I have always felt that this is very generous and it really gives me the opportunity to make sure Bobby has all he needs.
Fostering UK will take you through the assessment process and you will be provided with initial training to support your application. It’s nothing to worry about, they are really friendly. Once approved specialist training is provided and there are all sorts of topics to help you understand the needs of the children you will care for.
All foster carers have regular contact with their supervising social worker and the support of their wider local team, including therapeutic care professionals. Carer support groups are really great fun, but they are also really supportive, I always look forward to sharing my stories and getting advice from other carers.
Fostering Bobby long term was the best thing I ever did and since then we have fostered another child long term (with Bobby`s blessing of course) I really am able to commit long term and make a lasting difference. I truly believe that this has been helped by the fact that Fostering UK shares my visions.
(names changed to protect confidentiality)