The end of one year and the start of the next is often a time for reflection. A little like a review when we can ask ourselves what has gone well for us, what hasn’t gone so well, what we have achieved, what we could have done differently, and what we hope to achieve in the coming year.
The end of 2014 coincided for me with an interview about fostering. It was a good interview because it made me think and reflect. I’d like to share some of it here. The last question was the most thought-provoking and I am sure you can think of other examples.
What do you find to be the most challenging and rewarding aspects of being a foster carer?
Probably the most challenging aspect of fostering is listening to a child disclose abuse. It is heartbreaking. Also, having to say goodbye at the end of a placement is difficult. The foster family bonds with the child and goodbyes are never easy. The most rewarding aspect of fostering is seeing a child improve – to learn to trust and smile again. That’s wonderful.
Is your work a learned profession or is it rather a vocation?
A bit of both really. You have to want to work with children to be a foster carer, but foster carers also receive ongoing training and have to meet certain standards. Like many professionals, foster carers learn from doing ‘the job’, so that the more experienced you are the better you are at looking after the children you foster.
What do you enjoy most about foster parenting?
To be honest I enjoy all aspects of fostering, even the meetings. But to see a child improve, gain confidence and learn to trust is absolutely wonderful and makes all the hard work completely worthwhile.
If you hadn’t gone into fostering, what else might you have done? (or how would your life have been different?)
This is a difficult one because my life revolves around fostering and all it entails. Fostering is all-encompassing and life-changing. It would certainly have been a different life without fostering, and I suspect a far less rewarding one.
What do you need to be a foster carer?
- A desire to work with children and young people.
- Room in your home.
- Empathy for the child, and an understanding of the circumstances that has brought that child into care.
- A calm manner particularity in a crisis.
- Common sense.
- A good support network.
- Knowing when to voice an opinion and when to stay quiet.
- Making time for your own family.
- Trying not to be judgemental.
- Be a good listener.
- Have a smart outfit for meetings.
- Be well organised.
- Keep a sense of humour.
- Don't be afraid to say 'No', all children need boundaries.
- Play together and enjoy looking after the child, you will be part of their life history.
All best wishes for 2015.
Cathy x (www.cathyglass.co.uk)