Keeping brothers together
Options Fostering supports siblings remaining together wherever possible and recently reunited brothers who had been fostered separately for over a year due to their behaviour towards one another in the birth family home.
We gave them time to settle in separate foster placements while encouraging lots of contact between the foster families. When the boys began asking to live together again we gradually increased the amount of time they spent together and monitored their behaviour. With positive role models and clear boundaries in their foster home, the brothers happily settled into family life together and have been inseparable ever since!
Fostering to adoption
Some carers enjoy short-term, task-centred fostering. We recently had foster carers who looked after a child for a year between the age of 1 and 2. Once adoptive parents were found, the foster carers spent lots of time with the new parents to share routines and help settle the child quickly. They worked closely with the Local Authority, their Supervising Social Worker, the new parents and the Adoptions Team to help smooth the process and reassure the child who is now looking forward to their first Christmas with “forever” parents.
While this type of fostering can be upsetting for foster carers who build a bond with a child knowing they will be moving on, it is also incredibly rewarding and there is lots of support available for the foster carers who do this amazing job.
“I’ve been a foster carer since 2006. I always wanted to foster but my husband thought that we had enough to manage with our own family of 6 so he wouldn’t be persuaded. However, we both started work at Options College Shifnal in 2003 and discovered that there were young people who weren’t being offered an alternative to residential care because their life stories led people to assume they couldn’t be managed in a family setting, and yet we could see that there were some really good kids that just wanted someone to give them a chance.
This changed everything for my husband and I got my way … finally! The initial assessment was hard work, it’s a very intrusive and thorough process but we understood the need to find the right people and we were more informed carers because of it.
Options Fostering has provided the highest level of support. We’ve encountered situations that have made us think long and hard about what we are doing. It can be tough and the right support is imperative. The agency have offered us guidance and skilled clinical support which has helped to sustain our resilience and the young person’s placement.
When one of our boys was offered the chance to move in to his own flat after reaching his 18th birthday, he chose to remain with us under the ‘Staying Put Scheme’. He told his Social Worker that he didn’t want to move out and would prefer to remain with his ‘family’. That was such a huge compliment for us.
He’s 20 now, has just completed his Level 4 Mechanics course and is proud to be working as a qualified mechanic. He is a real highlight in our fostering career because he has made some really good choices for himself and we played a part in that. He’s been telling us recently that he isn’t moving out until he’s 37”
– Julie Speed – Foster Carer
Settling into family life
Prior to being placed with her family Debbie spent time in secure accommodation and three years in and out of emergency/crisis placements. Debbie is now living successfully with a family, this is something that her local authority had never imagined possible due to the previous severe disruption and multiple placement breakdowns she suffered.
– Options Fostering Staff Member
“I feel safe”
“I am a 14 year old boy and have been in foster care for the last 6 months. When I first moved in with my foster carers I felt nervous but my carers made me feel safe and welcome and answered all my questions like how much pocket money I would be getting. If I asked questions they were not sure of they were honest and said they would find out and let me know which they did. My carers have helped me settle in and I get on well with all the family. Sometimes I argue with my foster sister but it’s never for long and we soon make up. Sometimes when I get frustrated I want to behave badly but my carers have helped me to control this and have put boundaries in place. I do miss my family but my carers have helped me to understand that being with them is what’s best for me right now and they are always there to help me in anyway they can”.
– Shaun (foster child)
“They have become more trusting and learned to do things themselves”
“The Options Fostering social workers know us and the sort of people we will be compatible with, and you meet the youngsters before you agree to them sharing your home. I have some simple ground rules, and I made sure they knew exactly what they were and that they were happy with them before they moved in. I have seen a big different in them. They have become more trusting and have learned to do things for themselves. They muck in with the housework and look after their own rooms, and some of them have been in full time employment.”
“Definitely the most important and rewarding job any person could have”
A typical day is very similar to that of any parent, in that it won’t be typical at all! Once we’ve got our foster child off to school I go off to work for the day. My partner doesn’t work and collects our foster child from school before collecting our biological children. When I return home from work I take the children to their after school clubs including swimming club and judo club, whilst my partner cooks the tea.
Our foster child has difficulty settling at bedtime so we start the bedtime routine early in the evening with a bath and then talk about his day, these activities help him to settle down. Our own son is younger so he goes to bed first, I read him a story and he’s then settled for the night. On a Tuesday our foster child has a telephone call with his grandparents who he sees 2 to 3 times a year, this means that these phone calls are very important. Once our foster child settles for bed I record the day’s events. This entails writing a few sentences to say how things have gone and recording any “care related” telephone calls that have made/received during the day.
It may seem strange to say that our day is like that of any parents and then talk about recording your day, but many parents find this useful when working with a child with special needs. Our foster child has lived with us for 3 years now and is part of our family. This is definitely the most important and rewarding job any person could have.