9 reasons why foster carers deserve our appreciation
4 March 2020
If there is one thing that the pandemic taught us, it is the fact that we should appreciate our key workers more.
Similarly to how doctors and nurses are on the front line of health care, foster carers are on call to help vulnerable children in care. They offer them a loving home and look after them with dedication and commitment.
Like any other key job, fostering has its challenges. For instance, during the lockdown, we have had carers who opened their home to children when everyone else was isolating or avoiding contact with others. It is for this kind of things that we honestly believe that all foster carers deserve our attention and appreciation.
You may not know this but foster carers have a very busy life outside of their caring responsibilities. They attend training, keep a journal about their foster children, take their young people to various appointments, and have regular catch-ups with the social workers. If you would like to know more about a day in the life of a foster carer, go to our collection of fostering stories. You can get more fostering insights by reading these five things only approved foster carers knows.
Next, we are going to give nine reasons why we think foster carers need to be valued more.
- Foster carers wear many different hats.
They are carers, counsellors, teachers and friends to their foster children. Depending on the needs of the young people, they take on various roles. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, foster parents had to be teachers and friends to their children, they spent more time with them for schoolwork, and offered emotional support to get them through this challenging time. These real-life accounts of fostering during lockdown show how foster carers have had to take on various roles.
- Foster carers are flexible people.
Each child in care has a unique behaviour and specific needs. To make them feel happy and supported, foster parents need to show flexibility, adaptability and the ability to learn on the go. Baby foster carers in particular have to be available 24/7 for their little ones who are completely dependent on them. Here Sam explains what it is like to be a baby foster carer.
- Foster carers never stop learning.
Either through formal training or ‘on the job’ learning, our foster carers acquire new skills every day. We organise for them training sessions on various topics led by experts. To understand what sort of training we offer at Brent and what new skills our carers learn, look at last year’s foster carers’ learning programme. Foster carers also attend support groups where they share and discuss their daily life with fellow foster parents in Brent in a confidential space.
- Foster carers are strong.
Sometimes, some children in care are unable to take full advantage of their carers’ love and support to improve their lives. No matter how hard they try, foster carers have to accept this but also remain resilient and strong for the next child that comes into their life. Throughout the years, when faced with situations like this, our foster parents have demonstrated remarkable strength. Muriam talks about this particular challenge in her video interview.
- Foster carers are open and inclusive.
We normally try to match children and foster carers based on their cultural and ethnic background. However, because we do not have enough carers, sometimes this is not possible. Luckily, we have a collective of inclusive foster parents who love and care for all children equally, regardless of where they come from. Patrice, a Black British foster carer of Roman-Catholic faith, has cared for Muslim children from Afghanistan, and they have valued and respected each other’s heritage. Listen to Patrice tell her lifelong fostering story in this interview.
- Foster carers build strong relations with their children.
Positive, strong relationships between foster parents and children are at the core of fostering. Children need this sort of fruitful interactions to grow their self-confidence and develop. Brent foster carers use every opportunity to bond with their foster children and help change their behaviour and build their personality. Muriam and Waseem, for example, helped Sarah become a good parent despite being let down by her own family.
- Foster parents changed their lifestyle to foster.
Some Brent foster parents adjusted their day-to-day routines to fit in fostering. Some quit their jobs to start fostering full-time while others have rearranged their house to have a spare room for a teenager. Depending on their circumstances, some made radical changes just to be able to care for vulnerable children and prepare them for the next stage in their life. Sam quit for job so she could give all her time and attention to foster babies. Discover her story.
- Looking after children who have experienced trauma is not easy.
‘The type of trauma experienced can vary widely from neglect to domestic violence to physical and sexual abuse,’ and it has a negative impact on the emotions and the behaviour of the children. Foster parents who look after these children need to be more patient and able to separate the child from their actions. We are extremely grateful to have an amazing collective of foster carers with the right skills and experience to care for these vulnerable children. If you would like to join us, please get in touch.
- Fostering takes courage.
It takes courage to ask for help, it takes courage to accept that some children will refuse your love, it takes courage to say goodbye to a child who is moving on. Despite the hard work and all the challenges, our foster carers do not give up. On the contrary, they continue to love and care for their children unconditionally. For this and for all other reasons we believe that foster parents in Brent and throughput the country deserve our appreciation and support.
If you agree that foster carers are truly amazing people and need to get more recognition for their efforts, share this article.
Inspired by our own foster parents you may decide to start fostering, too. When this happens, please give us a call. We will be there for you.
Are you ready now? Call 0800 001 4041 or sign up to attend our next fostering information evening.