Caroline had been a Supported Lodgings Provider (SLP) for Barnardo’s for 13 years – providing a room and support to young people leaving care – before deciding to foster seven years ago. She fostered a boy when he was 4 – he’s now 11.
“When I was a Supported Lodgings Provider I always had the feeling I’d like to do a little more, so I thought I’d take a leap of faith into fostering and it’s the best job I’ve ever had. It’s the most challenging too – it’s not like any other job. You don’t go home at 5 o’clock and forget all about it. So although in some senses it is a ‘job’ he’s part of my family. I’ve always liked a family atmosphere and the best thing about it is seeing someone change and grow and become part of your family.
“I’ve always had excellent support from Barnardo’s, when I was an SLP and as a foster carer, and with the 24 hour on call service I’ve never felt I was on my own. I got good advice and they’re also very good at making sure you take care of yourself. The training has been brilliant. I did a therapeutic parenting course which was the best training I ever did. I’m very interested in the issue of early childhood trauma but even courses on more mundane things like First Aid I enjoy very much because you get together with other people.
“You can make a real difference to a child’s life - at the most basic level it’s about getting a meal and having clean clothes, but at a deeper level it’s about the emotional connection you have, which may be the first emotional connection the child has ever had. It didn’t happen overnight, but you know you are making a difference when you realise that a child trusts you to be there and do the basic things, like pick them up from school, when maybe they’ve never had that trust in an adult before. For a child to know you aren’t going to reject them as they’ve been rejected in the past – that’s when you feel you’ve turned a corner. It’s what it’s all about.
“Sometimes people say to me that they couldn’t foster, but they’re not sure why. I’d say there’s no particular type of person that makes a good foster carer and I think if you have love to give a child then you can do it.”
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