With a shortage of 10,000 foster carers across the Uk more are needed to provide children with a safer and caring home.

Foster Care Fortnight is about an awareness campaign to encourage people with the right qualities to come forward.
The Yorkshire Reporter last month,this and next month have been covering the process involved in fostering and it has resulted in people enquiring and hopefully becoming foster carers.

This month we have spoke to both carers and people who been cared for.They all spoke frankly about their own experiences. Here is a selection of them which will give a real insight into fostering.

Nicki Napier from Leeds

I decided to look into fostering because I enjoyed raising my own son and I am very proud of the young man he has become. I wanted to do the same again for other children. I was initially concerned about how fostering would affect my son but he has thrived through my decision to foster and it has helped him to mature and brought us even closer together.

I did worry about being a single carer and if I could cope. I had always been strong and independent and being single never bothered me but fostering was something completely new. When I first started fostering, it is fair to say that I found it a little isolating and overwhelming but the support of Team and other carers helped me get past this.
As a single person, I also had to weigh up the financial implications of leaving a secure job to become self-employed but I knew I had to take a chance for something I was passionate about. I had worked in a range of different organisations from the police to retail management but had never worked with children directly. I thought this would go against me but again I needn’t have worried; my life and work experience counted for a lot.

I am currently caring for a 16 year old boy and it has been fantastic to see the progress he has made. He has taught me so much about myself and has changed my whole perspective on life. The training and support I have received from Team and my supervising social worker has been second to none.

The highs and rewards of fostering definitely outweigh the lows and, there have been some challenging lows. I really feel that fostering has made me a stronger person and deciding to take that leap of faith is the best decision I ever made.

Emily

I saw an advert in the newspaper for care in 2009 and applied. Being in care myself as a child, I felt I could provide a home with a caring environment for a child as an alternative to living in a children’s home as I had done.

Becoming a foster carer has since completely taken my life over, and has made me look at myself in a different light and spurs me on to try new and different challenges.

Sometimes the child/ren are let down in one way or another by other people/agencies and the result for the child is upset and their confidence is knocked, resulting in a step backwards.

When I see a child change and grow in confidence and self-esteem and knowing I’ve played a part in helping them to achieve this it makes it so worthwhile!
I’m never on my own as my grown up children help out, and I live close to another foster carer and we give each other support and babysit for each other when needed. I can get help and support from the Swiis foster team too, and the child’s social worker when necessary.

I think anyone who has patience, tolerance, commitment, and acceptance and understanding would make a great foster carer, but you would also need to be at least 21 and will need to go through the assessment process and be accepted and approved.

If you are considering making fostering your new career choice I would advise you to do your research, ask as many questions as you like and sound out any worries or concerns you may have – it’s a big step and needs your full consideration.

Experiences Of Being In Care

M, aged 14 was placed with Team Fostering in 2010 after a number of placement moves.
She talks about her experiences since being placed with her current Team Fostering carers and how her life has changed for the better.

“When I first came into care I wasn’t sure what was happening because I didn’t get told much,” she said.
“The woman and man told me I was going to go back to my mum in a few days but it never happened.

“I had been to quite a few foster homes before I came to live where I am now and they were alright. At the time I thought I was happy but now I know that I wasn’t as happy as I could have been and I’m glad I moved.”

As a not-for-profit organisation, Team Fostering doesn’t have any shareholders so the only people who profit from what they do are their foster carers, children and young people.

This means that Team’s foster carers can feel confident that they are properly supported to do a really difficult job and that the children they care for are given the best chance to achieve their maximum potential.

“I’ve been a lot happier living with my current foster family because I know I’m here to stay, no matter what,” M added.

“The family treat me as one of their own. I have got a nice bedroom, lots of shoes and clothes and I’m treated really well. I love living here and wouldn’t change it for the world.

“Although I miss my birth family, it’s a lot better living with my foster family because I have had a lot more opportunities than I would have had at home and I feel I wouldn’t be where I am now.

“Being in care has made a big difference to my life.”

22year old S from Leeds was fostered from the age of 8yrs old. This is what she had to say and supports fostering fortnight.

I was removed from my parents care when I was 8yrs old and placed into the care of foster parents.Of course it was hard and at 8yrs old I didn’t fully appreciate the reasons why. This led to me experiencing a crisis identity during my teenage years, I challenged my social worker, foster parents and anyone in the a position of authority.

My foster parents who looked after me from 8 yrs old up until independence and beyond were careful to explain the reasons why I couldn’t live with my birth family but during my younger years I didn’t have the ability to express my emotions constructively.

Regardless of the challenges I presented,my carers stood my me and never turned their back on me.Now as adult I understand why I couldn’t live with my birth parents and extend my gratitude to the people who loved me unconditionally in their absence despite my earlier rejection of them.

I am now studying at university and close to achieving my ambition of becoming a teacher.Without the consistent support of my carers who are still a significant part of my life who knows where I would be now.I have only praise for the people who put themselves forward to care for children who would otherwise continue to face poor parenting and adversity in their lives.

It is my intention when I am older to repay the kindness that has made such a difference to me.

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