Over the last 7 years me and my husband have been foster carers for the St Helens local authority. For us fostering is a family affair and our son and daughter have always pitched in to welcome children into our home. It’s been a really positive experience for us, and it’s brought us so much joy to care for the children that have come to stay with us.
Over the years we have become accustomed to adapting quickly to change as the foster child’s routines become our new routines. It is really important that they have the continuity of attending their nursery or school. They might also have after school activities or clubs to go to at the weekend. Having regular family time with their birth family, where possible, is vital. On top of that there are various meetings that we need to attend.
When it is time for the children to leave us, we have been involved supporting them through the process of returning to their birth family. If that is not possible the plan may be for the children to move to a forever family through the process of adoption. Understandably the children will experience a lot of mixed feelings at this time, and they need lots of reassurance and support from us and their social worker. When children leave us, it is always really hard to say goodbye but where it has been possible, we have been able to stay in touch and it’s so lovely to see them happy and thriving.
Children and young people in foster care need a loving, nurturing home environment and a therapeutic parenting approach…along with that we have found that a good sense of humour always helps too! Over the years we have seen improvements in the training and support offered to St Helens foster carers and this has enabled us to develop our skills further.
I would say it took us a while to find out more and finally take the plunge into the fostering world, but we are so glad that we did it. I would urge anyone who is thinking about becoming a foster carer to contact the St Helens fostering team to have a chat. It is a really busy, and at times demanding role but the rewards, in our experience, have been far greater. One thing that is certain in these uncertain times is that vulnerable children and young people will continue to need a place of refuge, love, care and understanding.