Foster care means different things to different people. But how many people actually have a connection with fostering. Probably not many. When I was growing up, the family next door fostered children. And quite a few of them. I suppose I was well placed to see what foster care was all about. My brother and I remember feeling lucky to have a foster family living right next door. Especially when two brothers were taken in by the family. They were around our age. That meant ‘footie’ practice was never a problem. Three doors away lived one of our best mates, and so that made a ‘five-a-side football team to take on ‘all-comers’ in the local park. And luckily for us, the two brothers; our mum told us, would be staying for the long term. Great, we thought. And so it proved to be.
Being that close to foster kids around my age had seemed strange at first. We soon got used to it. In a way, fostering became part of our life. We didn’t think there was anything odd about it. My mum was friendly with the people next door. This meant that the two boys would often stay at ours for tea. And then all four of us would set off together for school each morning. At the end of the school day, I can remember – especially during the long hot summers – we would rush to the park: Football! And more football – often kicking the ball around when it had got dark. We were all football crazy. That was back in the nineteen-eighties. So in the meantime, I’ve grown up. Got a child of my own now – a boy – just coming up to his twelfth birthday. And because of my memories of living close to a fostering family, my wife and I have decided to foster. Our thinking is that it will be a very positive experience for our son. We have started our application and have just completed the ‘Skills to Foster’ course. That was an eye-opener. It gave us lots to think about but made us all the more determined to continue. Of course, it made us realise that fostering children is no walk in the park. We did, however, totally get how it could be rewarding in ways not much else could match.
We’re currently getting amazing support from our supervising social worker. She’s helping us through the daunting process of the Form F. I have to say, because of the support we are getting, this part of the process is quite enjoyable. It concentrates the mind! One of the things that has really stuck with us, is just what great work foster carers do when they take on a sibling group. It’s quite upsetting to realise that many siblings get separated and can end up living miles from each other. You can see that when this goes on for the long term, the entire family is just split apart. Can there be anything sadder than brothers and sisters losing touch in this way? So, even though we are yet to be approved, my wife and I are thinking we would very much like to take on a sibling group. The agency is hugely receptive to this idea and we know all the training and additional support will be in place. Perhaps I am thinking of putting together the kind of 5-a-side football team so fondly remembered from my youth. Anyway, this idea has certainly caught on with my son. A house full of football enthusiasts definitely appeals. But we do know there will be issues: he will have to share his possession – as well as his time with mum and dad. There is so much support from the agency as to how this can be managed productively for all concerned. And learning to share in life is no bad thing…
There is an urgent need to find more people to foster sibling groups. Caring for such children means they can stay together. Fostering children in such a situation is challenging but highly rewarding. Find out how you can become a foster parent by calling our National Line 0330 311 2845. And if you are already caring for a budding footballer visit: https://footballbeyondborders.org/
For more information on training opportunities visit: http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/training/
And for some interesting reading on therapeutic foster care, you can visit our blog: http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/therapeutic-fostering-resource-guide-1/