Posted: Monday 28th February 2022
As part of International Women’s Day we interviewed one of our very own team members Caroline and asked her some questions on being a Foster Carer in Flintshire.
- How long have you been a Foster Carer and why did you want to become a Foster Carer?
I have been a foster carer for 12 years, my sister in law who lives in Manchester is a foster carer and when we used to visit our family we would always meet their children and that made us want to become foster carers, we would see the benefits to the children, how it made them stronger by having a positive impact on their lives and their development.
- How many foster children have you fostered over the years?
We have fostered around 14 children of all ages over the years, we have looked after children short term and respite for babies, two children have been with us long term for over 10 years, one has just left to live with her boyfriend and the other came to us when she was 7 years old and is now on ‘When I am Ready’ stage as she is now 19 years old.
- You talk about the ‘When I am ready‘ stage, can you please explain what that means?
When the children are 15 years and 9 months they receive a Pathways Plan. The plan helps them to plan their future and decide if they want to stay with their foster carer’s at the age of 18 and continue to receive the support till the age of 21. Some of the children choose to leave their foster carer’s for their independence but some feel they are not ready to leave, live and manage on their own, but it’s nice for them to have that option of continued support.
- The young lady who has left you and moved in with her boyfriend, how is she doing?
She is doing really well, we still see her all of the time which is really nice, and she is still part of our family
- Do you have any children yourself and how did they adapt to you fostering children?
Yes, we have one daughter who is now 21 years old and away at university. She was 9 years old when we started the foster care journey and was an only child so always wanted a brother or a sister. I had separated from her biological father at the time so she would stay with her Dad every other weekend which would then give her that break but she loved having the company of a foster child at the house. She was always included in any discussions to become foster carers and she was always 100% on board and she has always enjoyed it.
- You hear of biological children going on to foster children themselves in adult life, do you think the awareness from a young age is beneficial and would your daughter ever consider foster caring in the future?
Yes, she is studying psychology at university which has been a big factor from growing up around foster children, when I ask her about fostering in the future she always says, maybe one day.
- How have you found foster caring over the years? I’m sure there are many positive and negative stories you can share with us?
There is always going to be some placements that are harder than others and pushing the boundaries but you know the background of the child which prepares you. Generally we have had really good placements and we are a very calm household anyway with lots going on. We had three teenagers at one time and occasionally there would be an argument like most siblings, but we would always sit down and sort things out. You can have difficult times but we would just roll with it and deal with it.
- As a foster carer can you choose a child to take on as a placement?
Yes, the team at Foster Wales Flintshire are fantastic when it comes to placements, they are not pushy and are really understanding when it comes to your choice of placement. I have turned down placements that I thought were not suitable for my home environment and lifestyle. A foster carer does have to weigh up what is suitable for them but more importantly for the child.
- What support do you receive from Foster Wales Flintshire if you become a foster carer?
There is really good support, you receive regular training, the social workers have been brilliant throughout my 12 years, you receive regular emails updating you on events in the local community and of course you make friends with other local foster carers. The Mockingbird offers continuous support through their hub carer.
- Can you tell us more about the Mockingbirds?
There are around three Mockingbird constellations in Flintshire. They build relationships and offer support and advice to other foster carers in their hub. They will check in with foster carers to ask if there is anything they need, if they require help with school transport or sleepovers for example. It’s a really nice network as they are like an extended family to all the foster carers as some carers can feel a little isolated so the Mockingbirds are always there to help.
- What other benefits do foster carers receive in Flintshire?
You get a reduction on council tax, discount cards for days out, access to networking groups and events, birthday and Christmas grants and if you’re employed with Flintshire County Council you also get an extra five days of paid leave.
- And finally, if you were to give a message to someone thinking of becoming a foster carer, what advice would you give them?
Be open minded, it can be difficult but it can be very rewarding. You may think you’re going to go into foster care to give a lot to the children but really they bring a lot to you as well, I can’t imagine not being a foster carer, the children fill me with joy, you see the changes you’ve made but they also change you, it’s just so lovely.
Finally, if you work, don’t let that put you off, you can do it, there’s so much support and Foster Wales Flintshire understand people have work commitments and will help.