Foster carers know one thing above all – that no two days are ever the same.
This blog series is all about providing a window on some small element of the world of fostering as our Rainbow foster carers experience it. For those who are on the verge of – as we say “opening their hearts and homes”, we hope it may give you a small nudge in the direction of fostering.
Greetings all, my name is Chloe. I have been a foster with Rainbow for 3 years. Summer hols are here and as you all know to fill the hours can be quite a challenge. It’s great being a foster carer with Rainbow fostering. I get to meet up with other foster carers at the agency on a fairly regular basis. In the early days – as I am a single foster carer – I used to feel a little awkward but it is such a great community that you just get drawn in. Back to the challenge of the summer! What’s so good is you get to exchange ideas with other foster carers. And I have just used a really good one from Annie who fosters siblings – three girls. Anyway, I tried it yesterday and it can recommend it highly.
A simple idea for all foster carers for that looming holiday.
First, I suppose, a little bit of background. I have had Naomi living with me for 11 months now. She is nine and has settled – after a few bumpy starts – quite well. Things going okay at school. And that’s always a good thing. We’re both excited as I have booked a holiday and we will be going to the seaside. To Devon. And Naomi told me she had only ever seen the sea once in her life.
The agency has been very supportive as in my time with them, this will be the first occasion I take a child with me on holiday. So, therefore, a few things to sort to make this possible. Quite simple really – as we are not going abroad. Some admin to tie up: I’ve been given the delegated authority and notified my supervising social worker of where and when we will be going. Also, the local authority social worker and Naomi’s birth parents have been informed. I also double-checked and have all the contact numbers I may need – my social worker’s number and the duty ‘out of hours’ number in case anything crops up. Everyone relies on storing numbers in their phones but it’s a very good idea to have them written down somewhere as well. Just in case! Then, as all foster carers know records are so important – so everything was being recorded in my daily log which I was doing at the weekend when I heard the dreaded –
A simple idea for all foster carers for that upcoming holiday.
“I’m bored – what are you doing?”
“come over, Naomi – have a look – you might be interested.”
Naomi came over and leant against the corner of the table. She saw that I was recording some details about our holiday in Devon.
“It’s so long away. What can I do now?
It was only two weeks but that can seem a long time for a bored youngster on a Saturday afternoon. And it’s not worth saying that the time will ‘fly-by’. Another approach is called for. This is where the tip I had from Annie was so good. Why? Because it makes something that is distant like a holiday – at least in the mind of a young child – that little bit closer.
“We have to prepare”, I said.
“three weeks might seem a long time, but there are things we have to think about doing right now.”
I could see that this had an immediate effect on Naomi.
“What do we have to do?”
“Well can you think of one thing that you are going to need that is very important?
Naomi was silent for a few moments turning the question around in her mind.
“My clothes and swimming costume”, she said.
I replied: “Of course, but there’s something else before we can think about things like that.”
I could see that I had captured her attention. A positive sign as the weather that particular Saturday was not looking promising even though it was July. A typical English summer!
“What’s that?” said Naomi, fixing me with a broad grin.
“We have to do a practice pack and for that, we are going to need something very special which I know you haven’t got.” I did say as well, that I had given her a bit of a clue.
She looked puzzled.
(Foster carers will have experience and for some it’s always a bit poignant, of a child arriving late at night with only a few possessions. Saddest of all is that many appear with what little they have crammed into carrier bag. It hadn’t been quite that bad when Naomi arrived – well past midnight – one wet evening, almost a year ago. All she had was a faded and rather grubby sports bag with a broken zip. This meant that her clothes had got damp – also poignant.)
We’re going away for ten days Naomi and you haven’t got anything to take your things away in.
“I thought, I would have to put a few of my clothes and things in your suitcase”, she said to me.
“of course not, you – and I could see this pleased her – you are nearly ten – that’s double figures you know and a big girl like you is going to need her own special case. And I have an idea that’s even better than that. Which is good because we’re going to get it now.”
I could tell that Naomi had lost all thoughts of being bored…
Always try to foster enthusiasm – even if there doesn’t seem to be much scope.
“I can’t wait – can we take it up to my room now and we can start?”
It was a few hours later – we had got back from our trip to the shopping centre. Naomi was now the proud and excitable owner of a pink rucksack with green straps. And the most important thing, it had loads and loads of pockets of different sizes on the outside. And what seemed almost as many on the inside. I had also bought a whole load of holiday things like sun cream, hairbrush, hair bands, lip salve – lots and lots of interesting pocket-sized bits and pieces. And with the promise that the following weekend, we would be getting some holiday tee shirts and a new swimming costume.
We then spent a couple of enjoyable hours after tea thinking of exactly where to pack all the new items and into which pockets. That took a lot of rearranging and Naomi had great fun seeing which things could be made to fit best into the different rucksack pockets.
Names changed to protect privacy
Rainbow supports their foster carers to get the most from fostering.
Chloe has been fostering for long enough to have given her a range of different experiences. And we are pleased that Naomi has settled in so well and this is looking like turning into a long-term placement. Which is brilliant for all concerned. This all started; as it always does, with the close attention our highly experienced foster care duty team pay to matching. Doing this means we can transform lives for the better. And this is something we have been doing for well over twenty-one years now. We are one of the leading agencies with offices in London, Birmingham, Manchester and Hampshire.
Please call us for an exploratory discussion. We can be reached on 020 8427 3355 or our National Line – 0330 311 2845. There
We think that it’s a good idea to explore our website so some suggestions for pages to look at right now – http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/record-keeping/
All our Rainbow foster carers receive the benefit of a FREE subscription to FosterTalk magazine. It has a great deal of interesting information. In the Summer edition, there’s plenty of general guidance. For your reference visit – https://www.fostertalk.org/discounts-communications/fostertalk-magazine