Foster Care Spotlight: Phil & Emma

How long have you been Foster Carers?
We were approved to become foster carers in September 2019, and our first foster child arrived in the middle of December. So, it’s been six months so far.

Why did you want to be foster carer?
There are lots of reasons. We both grew up in hospitable households, where people often came to stay… and we’ve always tried to live this way too. We’ve both worked with children and young people over the years, and many of these have been vulnerable, which made us aware of the need for good carers. And after many conversations with friends and family who have adopted and fostered, we decided to go ahead with the training… and here we are.

How have you found being carers?
Challenging. Heart-breaking. Tiring. Stretching. An adventure. We’ve cried a few times but we’ve laughed loads too. Fostering was a whole family decision for us, but we knew that Emma and I would carry the weight of the responsibility. However, we didn’t anticipate how much of a team effort it would become and how much it would impact our family life in positive ways. We love the extended-family dinnertime conversations.

Have there being any unexpected challenges/pleasant surprises?
Lots. The case notes weren’t very comprehensive, and so we learned a lot of new stuff about T during his first few days with us. He’d also been in a few very short-term placements before he arrived with us, so he was understandably unsettled. And then it took a long time to get any education in place, mainly because of his additional needs, which meant that we were full-time for the first three months, with no respite. Having said all of that, there are ‘pleasant surprises’ every week… small improvements in behaviour, signs that he is feeling more settled.

How has lockdown impacted on fostering for you?
We already had T at home 24-7, so the ‘lockdown’ didn’t make a huge difference. However, educational support had just been agreed, and so it got moved online, which wasn’t easy to manage. The ‘lockdown’ probably affected us more than T in that it’s been harder for us to go out and get some respite.

Would you recommend fostering?
Yes. It’s not for everyone, of course, but it definitely has been for us. And the need for more foster carers is great.

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