We have been proud foster carers for 6 years and have had 20 children placed so far. We were previously with a private fostering agency; transferring to the Walsall Council fostering team early this year. We are very pleased we made the change as we have had a wide range of placements and experiences already. We know that we have always got someone to turn to for advice or support whenever we need it.
Historically I feel that fostering was seen as a role for women, but in 2016 the role feels very different. We are very well trained in all aspects of caring for children and young people, we regularly attend meetings with fellow professionals; we are definitely treated as professionals working for Walsall fostering.
This year we were asked to take young siblings who had suffered a family bereavement. We then had to liaise with child bereavement counsellors and be party to some very difficult conversations. The children’s care plan changed and we were involved in moving them to live with extended family members who could care for them. After an intense transition period all ended brilliantly and the children are doing really well.
A lot of foster carers opt to care for younger children but we are approved for children aged 0-18. We have a teenager who has been with us for over a year after coming to us for two week’s respite. On paper, there were a lot of issues to consider; including being missing from care and involvement with the police. We decided to give the young person a go and are so glad that we did. A year on, they have worked very hard to get qualifications from college and they are just about to start an apprenticeship with the health service. Foster carers can really make a difference, not only with young children, but teenagers too, they just need to be given a chance. One of the best things we hear is when they call our house HOME!!
I have learned a lot and developed a whole range of new skills as a male foster carer working with Walsall Council’s fostering service. I also feel that there has been a really positive impact on the family as a whole; our own children now have a very different perspective on life as they have witnessed the challenges that other children and their families have to live through.