Steven and Kristin have been fostering for over 13 years. They are passionate about caring for children and young people, Steven is the main Foster Carer and Kristin works as a teacher at a local primary school. The decision to embark on their fostering journey was an easy one for the couple as it was something they had considered for a while before taking those first steps. Their final push came from someone close to home, “We had a family friend whose sister fostered. After reaching out to an agency partner, we had our initial meeting, from that we were hooked!”
Prior to fostering, the couple had their own experiences working with young people who have experienced risk, trauma and adversity. Kristin had some early personal experience in the care of young people. Growing up in the USA with family members who provided care to looked after children. Reflecting on this experience, she feels that Care Experienced Children are not always as well understood as they should be.
Before fostering full-time Steven was involved in youth work, working with the YMCA. This gave him further drive to make a difference to young peoples lives. “There was only so much you can do in that time you have with them. I wanted to give more.” Steven and Kristin wanted to make positive change in the lives of young people and saw fostering as an opportunity to achieve this, “There is a misunderstanding of kids in care about what they have done, in our experience that this is never the case.”
At Care Visons we welcome anyone thinking about Fostering to get in touch and find out more information to help them make that decision. This can be done by filling out a short enquiry form and we will send over our foster carer information pack.
The assessment part of the fostering process typically takes twenty weeks to complete from your first meeting with your Assessor through to your Panel. Throughout this process you can withdraw at any time.
Once carers have been approved as Foster Carers they work very closely with their Supervising Social Worker to ensure we are making the right match for the young people in our care. Steven reflects, “We were a bit nervous but still keen through the process to start fostering. It maybe took us around 10 months before our first placement.” Kristin informs “For the most part the placements for children and young people living with us have been long term. It’s not always straight forward but we have been fairly lucky with how things have went.”
Fostering can bring so many rewards to carers and young people. Steven spoke the main ones for him being elements of bonding and building connections. Kirsten relates “We don’t see it as a job, they [young people in their care] are part of a family first. You get to build new traditions with them that become important to them. These can be as simple as going places for the first time or, in our case, making things together. Bonfire night means ‘chilli dogs’ Christmas means making decorations.”
There is lots of advice on preparing your house for fostering and getting ready for your first placement. Steven and Kristen offered their own advice about managing emotions and expectations. Kristen, “Your emotions can be high and excited, this might be differed with the children or young people. Because of this in our experience it has been best to keep the welcome low key and something like a nice dinner with what they want to eat. Chicken nuggets for the first dinner is still a nice memory of the boys from here. Emotions can change and settle so it is important to be mindful of this too. ” “It’s also good to remember that you might need to be flexible. Timings can change and it is possible that you will need to do a bit of a ‘supermarket’ sweep to get things they might need straight away.”
More information on Fostering with Care Visions is available via: How To Become A Foster Parent & How To Foster In Scotland (carevisionsfostering.co.uk).