Andrew and his wife live in Carlisle and have been fostering for nearly two years. Their fostering journey began after they adopted their daughter. This is Andrew's story.
What inspired you to consider fostering?
"We adopted our own daughter just over four years ago and before she came home to us she was in foster care for two years. We have so much love for her we wondered what would have ever happened to her if there were no foster carers to look after her until she found a mummy and daddy. I took a year off work to help her settle in with us and we started wondering if we could help other children that had been in her situation. As my wife has a full-time job whereas I worked from home it made sense to us that I could be the main carer and we started to look into fostering and found Family Fostercare."
Take us through a typical day as a Foster Carer
"Typically I get up around 7am (if none of the children have woken me up earlier!) and get breakfasts ready, and make sure everyone is washed, teeth brushed and dressed. We have our own daughter and 3 siblings that we look after at the moment so it’s a busy household! What I quickly discovered with fostering is that there is never a quiet day! There is either doctors or hospital appointments, school meetings to attend, local authority meetings, training sessions then there is a few visitors to your house including social workers, health visitors or children’s guardians etc. Also not forgetting all the washing, ironing and dishes to do from having so many little mouths to feed.
"During school holidays it can take a bit of planning keeping them occupied on days out but it’s all worthwhile when you see them having fun and hear them talk to each other or their friends about the exciting adventures they’ve had.
"Afternoons and evenings can be filled with taking children to activities such as gymnastics and swimming then there is the homework to help with. Having four children in the house each having their own individual needs can be very challenging but by putting the time in with them either individually and doing things all together it is rewarding when you see them learning, laughing and appreciating things that you do for them. Sometimes just sitting with a three year old watching Peppa Pig is all they want at that moment in time. You know how much that means to them when they look up at you and they squeeze your hand with the biggest smile ever. We make sure everyone is around the dinner table at tea time and we make a bit of an occasion about it and talk about everything and anything. It’s amazing what kids come out with sometimes. I like having a laugh and joking about and children do too, it keeps me young at heart also. With having different ages in the house it means different bed times so this can take some time. For some it’s a bottle and a musical mobile above the cot and for others it a bedtime story or talking about the days events. For my own daughter it’s playing games in the playroom or 30 minutes watching Tiny Pops on TV.
"The day isn’t over when they are all in bed. There can be a bit of reporting on the days events for each child and how they are progressing and any issues there may have been."
What do you like most about being a foster carer?
"That’s easy….providing a safe place for children whilst other things are going on in their life beyond their control. Gaining their trust and spending quality time with them and seeing the difference that can make within a short space of time."
What do you like least?
"There can be a little bit of uncertainty about how long a placement can be with you. A night, a week, a few months, a couple of years or longer. This all depends on their own or family circumstances why they are with you in the first place and what the plan is going to be for them. There is all sorts of reasons why children are in foster care."
Any advice for people considering fostering?
"For anyone interested in Fostering I would just say go out and find out about it. What most people don’t know is that there are fostering agencies out there like Family Fostercare to help you through every step of the process. Once you’re approved they are literally by your side helping, advising and training. They are doing it with you and you get your own Supervising Social Worker to help, advise and assist you. They are just a phone call away and have a local office based in Kingstown. The assessment process to become a Foster Carer can be lengthy and intense but that’s understandable when working with children is involved. We took one year from enquiring to being approved. Stick with it, I promise you it’s worth it when you start making a difference to these young people’s lives."