Donna has been a foster carer for more than ten years. For the first five years, Donna fostered with an independent agency, until she transferred to become a foster carer with Liverpool City Council, because of the investment in enhanced training and support.
I had always thought about fostering and when I worked for the police, I became aware of the circumstances in which children come into care. Learning about children’s circumstances was a real eye-opener and it made me want to become a foster carer.
Ten years on, I’m proud to have been able to see children progress, become more confident and thrive because of the consistency I’ve been able to provide.
If a child comes into foster care from a chaotic lifestyle, our way of living is completely alien to them because we have boundaries, routines and consistency. I honestly believe you can’t underestimate the power of being boring!
Routine and consistency can go such a long way to stabilising a child and bringing calmness. As a foster carer you are the anchor that allows them to feel safe and be spontaneous and participate in things, because they know they are coming back to the same routine.
When you get the routine covered and they start to feel secure, the children begin to blossom and thrive. The change can start as small as them choosing their own clothes and taking pride in their appearance, which then transpires into wanting to play football and joining more in class.
Over the ten years, I’ve seen children change before my eyes. When they gain their confidence and start developing their sense of self, the rest of their personality starts to come out and we can joke around and have a laugh, where it may not have been possible to do that in the past.
Our children have a way of amazing and astounding you with their resilience. Some of the biggest challenges in life, they will take to, like a duck to water. It’s usually the little things that can trigger the biggest emotional response.
That’s where foster carers can help.
My advice to any new foster carers would be to have faith and belief in your skills and abilities. Anyone with life experience has so much to offer already and that’s before the training and support you’ll receive.
There’s no manual as such, and every child is different, but the fostering training is second to none, it’s absolutely brilliant and will stand you in good stead.
Fostering has opened so many doors for me. I initially went on from fostering to becoming a contact support worker (because I had the insight) and then I went on to become a qualified social worker. So, you never know what’s around the corner with fostering.