Foster carers Laura and Oliver have been with Rainbow for three years. They have their own birth child but became interested in fostering when friends of theirs; also foster carers, were caring for a sibling group. Being close friends, this meant that Laura and Oliver had close contact with what was a more-or-less instant family. From day one, they could see all the problems and challenges – but they could also see what it meant to keep a family of young children together. All safe and cared for in a loving, if extremely busy, fostering household. One of their friends is employed part-time and the other is self-employed and able to work from home. This made the care of their siblings group easier to manage.
A change in Oliver’s circumstances meant that he had the opportunity to work from home. Because they had such a close understanding of what fostering involved through their friends, they both decided if they were serious about becoming foster carers, the time had arrived. So they approached Rainbow in Manchester – the agency had come highly recommended by their friends. For the team at Rainbow, it meant working with people who already had a reasonable understanding of what fostering can involve. The couple both had a good understanding of the challenges, difficulties and rewards. They had seen fostering ‘up close and personal’. Laura and Oliver also understood it had to be a shared venture requiring total and unwavering commitment on all sides.
The ‘Skills to Foster’ course Laura and Oliver remembered as being extremely valuable. And despite having close friends as foster carers, they did feel the course – spread over three days – introduced them to aspects of fostering they could not have anticipated. At the end of the course, and in the weeks that followed, as they were helped to compile their Form F, Laura and Oliver remained committed to the idea of fostering siblings. Both were very interested to learn about therapeutic foster care and could see that further training in this area would be likely to be beneficial.
Along the way they learnt, with some sadness, just how many children and young people who come into foster care arrive with deep-seated emotional problems. Thinking back, Laura and Oliver remembered being taken aback by the scale of the difficulties these vulnerable children faced all alone. It did make them think that if they could care for siblings they would be helping to prevent such problems becoming worse. At least those particular problems that are caused when brothers and sisters become separated from one another.
The couple had known that once they were ‘Approved’ to foster there would be a wait for the right placement arrangement to come their way. Their 11-year-old daughter, Ellie, was hoping they might be able to welcome a brother and sister into their home “but a bit younger than me” was her preferred option. Laura and Oliver had to explain that they would probably have to look after a few children first as there was such a pressing need – especially as children often needed to be found somewhere on an emergency basis. Laura has thought that this was one of the many subtle and beneficial aspects to fostering. Their daughter has learnt an important lesson – that the world can be an uncertain and upsetting place. And that this is true for a great many children and young people: often much younger than her – and that their troubles were not their fault.
After six months Laura and Oliver were sent a referral for a brother and sister. The boy was seven and the girl was nine. They had already been in a foster placement, but this had only been on a temporary basis. All those involved at Rainbow and the local authority could see that it was very important for the children that their next placement be a long-term one. And very fortunately this has proved to be the case. Ellie now has a little brother and sister to share her home with. And because Laura and Oliver remain in close contact with their friends and their ‘instant family’, there have been some great; if not sometimes tiring days out. But as Laura and Oliver understood right from the start, energy is something foster carers are going to certainly need if they take on siblings.
Laura thinks that when you first become a foster carer it really is a bit like learning to ride a bike for the first time. You see other experienced foster carers appearing to ‘sail along’ but with all the help and support from the dedicated team at Rainbow, you don’t need the stabilisers for long. But, she conceded, there will always be the odd wobble. Now, three years after starting their own fostering journey, Laura has a simple view of their role as foster carers: “It’s the most rewarding thing you’re ever likely to do. “And sometimes the most tiring,” quips Oliver a smile spreading over his face.
Pictures & names changed to protect privacy
More information about the law and practice relating to siblings can be found at – https://www.nspcc.org.uk/globalassets/documents/information-service/factsheet-siblings-care-law-practice.pdf
Rainbow Fostering is busy recruiting applicants in Hampshire, London, Birmingham & Manchester.
To find out if a career in fostering might suit you and your family, call us today on 020 8427. You can also use our National Line 0330 311 2845.
We are arranging Skype online applications – so if you’re ready you can apply right now. You do need to be more than 21 years old, be a full-time resident in the UK or have indefinite leave to remain, have a spare bedroom, reasonable spoken and written English – a swell as the time and availability to dedicate yourself to caring for a foster child.
And for the latest information on the coronavirus pandemic and how to stay alert, stay safe, save lives and protect the NHS you can visit – https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/coronavirus Any applicant seriously considering foster care should visit our FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) page on our website: http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/frequent-asked-questions/ This covers questions such as can I have pets? Can I foster if I have my own children? Will my views count in relation to who I am asked to foster?