Foster Carer Carolyn started fostering for Knowsley last year. For Carolyn, the decision to become a Foster Carer came after about 18 months of careful consideration – during which time she involved her whole family, including her two young boys, in the decision to open her home to foster children.
“I wanted to give something back,” explains Carolyn. “I was lucky to already have a friend that fostered, so I had an idea what it involved and what an important role it is. When I told people I was considering doing it myself, some people thought I was mad, but I also had a lot of encouragement from people telling me they thought I would make a great Foster Carer. My family have been extremely supportive – including my two sons – which is really important.”
Carolyn says that the application process was, at times, quite probing, however she says she actually enjoyed the process. “In a way it was quite nice going over old experiences,” she says, “and my Social Worker has been extremely supportive.”
“When I started the training, I did wonder whether what I was about to learn would put me off – but in fact it had the opposite effect. It made me realise that there are more children out there who need help than you realise, so if anything it made me even more determined to see it through.”
Carolyn is full of praise for the amount of support and preparation she had from Knowsley Council’s Fostering Service as part of her training. “When I started fostering nothing came as a surprise, because I’d had so much training and felt really prepared for the job. What’s great is that your Social Worker will match you with a child that they think you are able to cope with and who will fit best into your life. I work part time so I know I’m best caring for a school-aged child, rather than a baby. And I explained that I was interested in Short-Term placements rather than Long Term, and the Fostering Service have been happy to accommodate that.”
“I feel well supported because I know my Social Worker is always on the end of the phone if I need anything.”
Carolyn says her two sons, have learnt a lot from the experience of being part of a fostering family. “I’ve been really proud of how the boys have responded,” she says. “They treat her like a sister, but they do understand that she won’t be staying with us forever. It has taught them that not all children have the same life and same background that they have.”
Carolyn still works part time in her role at Knowsley Council, and says her employer has been extremely supportive in allowing her time off for training, meetings and other commitments related to fostering. “My team and my manager have been very supportive,” she says. “I try to do things on my day off, but there are certain appointments like review meetings and compulsory training which I have to attend, and work have never had a problem with me taking time to go to these.”
Carolyn’s advice to anyone currently considering fostering is to go for it. “Go and meet some Foster Carers and hear what they have to say about their experiences. Ask them questions and find out whether fostering might work for you.
“You don’t need to be a superhero to foster, you just need to be an ordinary person who is prepared to give some of your time to help a child who could really benefit from your support and care.”