Hi , I'd like a bit of advice from someone who has been through fostering or is a current foster parent. I'm quite young 21 to be exact , in a very stable relationship with my fiancé we have been together for 5 years , and lived together for 4. We work our bloody socks off and have just bought our own house. I work with children and specialise in working with children with additional needs and children deemed in need and families and social workers etc. Really have vast experience I started working in this area at the age of 16 and got thrown in at the deep end as such ... I've seen a lot. Were financially stable. I went through a miscarriage at the age of 17 , now a bit older and wiser I possibly feel its benefited me in the long run. I have numerous qualifications and a degree children's learning and development 0-11. However after the miscarriage it planted the thought of having children in our heads , were just realistic that it's never been right. I'm not sure I want to commit to having our own children yet. I do feel however that we would be able to offer a loving stable home to foster children. We have the space etc. With my training and experience I know we could comfortably cope with a child with a few additional problems like mild learning difficulties etc. and full understand this isn't 'our' child but I just feel if we can do something we should.
I really honestly understand what a commitment it would be ,as does my partner, and its something we've discussed for around a year and a half but now were in a position to do more than talk.
I know were young , but theres not many 21 year olds that have a mortgage and their own home , we have a LOT of life experience and probably a bit wiser beyond our years.
We just like family life. We socialise but don't go out often and many of my friends are older , and have children of their own ....sort of what happens when you work in the field. We just feel ready.
Does anyone have any thoughts or advice ... be honest. Also I have read about some foster carers doing it as a career ... some having to give up work and some balancing work life with fostering ...what's the truth ?
You sound like you have really thought things through but if you are wavering a bit you could do a lot worse than foster older YP in the Pathways system (aged 16yrs to about 21yrs). These are YP who are being fostered but are now moving to independence and need a room, some space, and some fostering type guidance whilst they find their adult feet. The money is a bit less than full fostering, but you are not asked to give up your day job and you get the same level of training. It is easy to make the leap from Pathways to full fostering and you will be sure that fostering is for you before you give up your paid work.
If newborns or younger foster children appeal then you will need to give up work. There are many meetings, hospital visits, contact and intensive type of care needed for these fragile lo's. Our LA has day support groups so you can pick brains and get advice from more experienced foster mums and moan about bags under your eyes etc. I have friends in fostering who foster newborns but I am not sure I could do newborns. I prefer the older grunting teens.
I foster for an LA but from the posts on MN I think a private IFA gives more support to their carers. Whatever age group you decide upon, it will depend on how much support you feel you need as to whether you foster for your LA or you decide to foster with an Independent Foster Agency (IFA). My advice would be to speak to or visit some private foster agencies to see how they work and what resources and support they can offer (I wish we had done this but we probably would still have fostered with our LA). LA's offer precious little in the way of resources (equipment and respite/babysitting) as their budges are depleted.
Lastly, you need positive people around you! Good friends (non fostering) that you can visit to eat cake and put the world to rights whilst lo's are at school are priceless!!
Ah thank you so much ! I have no desire to foster newborns , I just think I would find the separation at the end of the placement way too much if I'd had them from day one ...or near enough. I really like the sound of the pathways thing , I moved out of my family home ... by choice at 17 so sort of know how tricky it can be having more responsibility at that age. Have you fostered lots of teens , obviously they are all different but what are the major benefits / issues you have found ?
If we were to foster school age children would I still be expected to leave my work ? I work school hours and I choose to work over the holidays by having two jobs but would happily give up my holiday work.
Sorry I know lots of questions but know how busy social workers are and don't want to waste anyone's time.
Separation can be hard when they are older too
I think if your work was flexible to allow you to go to meetings and health appointments and you would be there for the child before and after school then they might be fine with you carrying on with your job. I say might because all LA's are different, it seems.
The only problem might be if the child is ill or excluded from school.
I personally think though it is nice for the foster child if they know you are at home and also you are unrushed and available for them (ie in the evenings instead of doing household things) especially at the beginning of a placement but I do hear about people working and managing to do this.
As far as your age goes someone can be mature at 21 but another person less so, I guess you would just have to be assessed but you certainly sound like you have a lot to offer
Yep , I am very lucky with my employer , they have a really strong fostering and adoption policy that would give me the same right as any other guardian or parent... i guess when you work within family services they think about these things a bit more ! , I would be allowed time at the beginning of a placement) as well as time off if the child was ill or excluded etc.
I think we are going to take things further after Christmas , I've got a course to finish first and once that's done I would have an afternoon off half way through the week as well , so bit of an opportunity for extra housework etc.
I didn't mean to sound funny about the whole age attachment thing . I think I just wouldn't feel quite so bad when they are old enough for me to explain what's happening , I like it when children ask me questions and when I can answer them. Also not having children my own I wouldn't know where to start with a new born 6 months is the youngest I've dealt with. Whoever comes to us is because we can give them a stable home , a bit of family life , encouragement and support so age is not something i'm concerned about at all, we'll take whoever needs us and who ss. think we can cope with.
With regards to the pathway option our aim is to give a child staying with us the family life that we have both had while they are with us. We would both like to take the children/ young people who have come to us away on trips ... obviously provided its all okay with SS. I know this can be possible with younger children depending on their situations is this the same for pathway too ?
Have you thought about being a short break carer for kids with special needs? As you have experience through work
Yes I have , I'm not sure I Could do this all year round though what sort of flexibility is there with this kind of care ? I really can't find any agency websites that answer the questions I want answered lol. Theyve given me a good grounding ontop of what I know from work anyway but never seem to go into much detail ... Unless im just looking at the wrong websites !
Hi fluffanstuff have sent you a pm x
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