Carol and John
Carol has always been drawn to social work, as she explains “I have a cousin who is deaf and this made me more socially aware as a young person. I remember talking to the careers advisor at school about wanting to do social work, but it was a very different time we lived in then and I was advised, that I was too pretty for such a role and should consider retail instead”.
As such Carol started her working life working in retail, before becoming a training manager. When Carol fell pregnant with her 3rd child she decided to become a stay at home mum, which led to becoming a registered childminder to care for friend’s children too. Carol loves training and she undertook all the courses on offer to childminders. This led to Carol becoming a community child minder, working with families in need to help parents with mental health problems, disabilities and those where there were child protection concerns.
Carol first found out about Fostering People through a friend, who works as a social worker.
“A friend told me about the information evening so I went along. When I got there, I found there was no hard sell, the event was relaxed and welcoming and I felt comfortable”.
Carol and John have 3 children. Their eldest is a psychiatric nurse living independently. They also have a 16 year old son and a 14 year old daughter.
Fostering has been a big change for them. During the assessment to become foster carers they were fully on board, but it hasn’t always been easy for the family. When their foster child, Poppy came to live with them, she was initially cruel to the family dog, this was hard for the children to witness. Son Stuart bonded with Poppy, much sooner than daughter Claire. Claire had always been the baby of the family, and as Poppy was younger, this affected her and her place in the family dynamics. Although they took longer to bond, the relationship they now share is strong.
Carol describes “before fostering, we use to take regular family holidays, because of fostering we have had to reduce the amount of times we go away, and this has had a negative effect on the children”. Fostering People invite feedback about fostering from birth children and they reported this to the agency. My supervising social worker, David came out to talk to the children about their feedback. It’s another example of the support from the agency and how they really do listen to you as a family not just you as foster carers”.
Carol and John’s first foster child, Poppy came into care due to mum’s mental health. Carol recalls “I was approached by Fostering People to take Poppy due to the experience I had of caring for a young boy with autism whilst child minding. It was felt that I would be a good match to manage Poppy’s behaviour, which could be aggressive when she had a tantrum. She also had a real fixation about food which isn’t uncommon for children who have experienced neglect.
Carol recalls “When Poppy first came into placement, she wanted to eat all the time. She was a very bubbly four year old, she was very intelligent and feisty, but also scared, she was trying to please all of the time.
I soon found out what worked for Poppy in managing her behaviour, and that very much matched the PACE model of parenting. When Poppy has a tantrum she responds well to being shown affection, a hug is a lot more effective than a punishment such as a time out or the naughty step. Her tantrums have now all but gone and she is a very different little girl.
You soon get to know when her mood is changing and a tantrum is possible, it’s often very easy to defuse her rising anxiety by telling her you don’t want to see that funny face and pulling a silly face back at her. It makes her smile and whatever was bothering her is soon forgotten.
She is such a different little girl to the one that joined us, she use to scream abuse, kick doors and hit people, now she is such a happy calm little girl, it gives us great pleasure and a sense of pride to see the change in her, especially when professionals like paediatricians comment on it”.
Carol describes the support she has received “Fostering People have been so supportive, the training they provide has been really interesting and every time you pick up the phone there is always someone there, the support has been amazing. The way they followed up on our own children’s feedback has been very reassuring and it’s good to know that your own children are paramount.
The support groups are very helpful, they are a safe place where you can talk about what you need to, and everyone there is understanding and supportive”.
For anyone considering fostering Carol says “Pick a company that will support you and the whole family, a professional organisation that cares. Fostering People knew my skills and they matched very carefully to ensure we got the right child to achieve the very best outcome”.