We had the pleasure of sitting down with some of our Fantastic Foster Carers for an in-depth conversation about their Journey and experiences. Nicola spoke passionately about her own journey and why she does what she does. Touching on some of the rewarding moments Fostering brings.
Nicola has been part of the Care Visions fostering family for three years. Her extended family, with her former husband, meant that there were many children and young people around. Nicola enjoyed caring for children, her natural warmth and enthusiasm with children led her to becoming the go-to babysitter in her family. Whether she was looking for it or not, this gained her a lot of experience looking after children.
Nicola is passionate about working with young people and has a background in working with children with disabilities. Fostering is something she had considered for a long time. She decided to reach out to Care Visions in 2018 and put herself forward as a prospective Foster Carer.
Support is something Nicola viewed as vitally important when starting her fostering journey. Thankfully during the initial sessions with Care Visions, it was apparent to her that requirement would be fully met. “You can tell that you were going to be supported”, Nicola said.
At Care Visions we work with families of all shapes and sizes to inspire extraordinary young lives. “I thought at the start that being a single carer could be a barrier, however, the Skills to Foster training helped and showed myself and another single carer attending that we were indeed cut out for it and, surprisingly to us, in our small training group we were amongst the ones who went all the way to approval. “As the two single carers we have stayed good friends.”
After the assessment process, comprehensive training and discussions with the approval Panel, Nicola felt ready to begin caring for young people. “This was a bit of a whirlwind. I have experience in working with children who have a disability or mental health support needs. The first young person I cared for had complex needs and this brought a number of challenges. I was able to manage this with support and close working with my Supervising Social Worker. Ultimately, we were able to find the right support for the young person.”
Support is a crucial part of anyone’s continued journey whether it is training, support groups, one to ones with Supervising Social Workers or Therapeutic Family Workers, life story work, Theraplay® based approaches, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (More info under Two Pillars of Training), all of these have a vital part to play in supporting someone’s Fostering Journey. Foster Carers also call on their own life experience to prepare and support them during the whole process; “Your knowledge of life and life skills helps carry you through”.
At Care Visions, we focus on getting to know our young people and building relationships with them. Nicola spoke about some of the things that were important for her to remember at the beginning of any placement. “It is good to have things ready, but you can’t have everything to hand so you need to be flexible too.” “It’s important that you speak to the young person straight away and greet them rather than speaking though their social worker, things like that can help make the difference.”
Nicola’s found her next fostering experience very challenging but overall, very rewarding. The referral Nicola received described a young person with complex needs. “They were described as child that wouldn’t want to do many things, was non-verbal and wouldn’t sleep.” Nicola has built a lovely relationship with this person and can see the benefits of her love and care. “I now have a hard time getting them in from playing in the garden, they sleep so well and is now able to ask to do things that they want to.” Nicola added; “You don’t realise what you have done sometimes until you hear it back. This can be things like the positive feedback from Panel Reviews.” “People think that it is hard work but you make it what you can. You go out, you have fun, you do things that you enjoy, things that a family enjoy. That doesn’t feel like working.”
When asking about advice for those who are early in their Fostering Journey, she also had this to say; “Be honest with yourself and your Supervising Social Worker. When it comes to placements, have the confidence to say if you feel it is going to be a good match or if you feel it might not, that is in anyone’s interest.”
At the time of this discussion, Nicola is currently caring for two young people, a boy of primary school age and a girl in her early teens. Both are flourishing as individuals in the supportive and devoted care of Nicola.
You can read stories from more of our Foster Carers to learn more about what fostering is like - or you can check out our blog where you’ll find plenty of information and links to useful resources. We also have an information pack you can request at any time.