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Tips for starting out in fostering

Michael from the West Midlands is looking after his first young person as a foster carer. He has shared his experiences from his initial weeks as a carer and the training and support he’s received to get his fostering journey started.

Why did you decide to become a foster carer?

We had seen various documentaries and posters about young people in care and were shocked to see how many still needed foster carers and safe homes. We spoke to some couples local to us who foster with the Local Authority to get an insight into what it would be like. Then we chose St Christopher’s as my cousin has fostered with them for a number of years and recommended we give it a try.

Once we were approved we were so scared but excited at the same time. Sitting waiting for the phone to ring with news of our first young person was nerve-wracking, but we’ve landed on our feet.

Who lives in your household at the moment?

Right now we are looking after an 11 year old boy who is on the autistic spectrum. It’s our first placement so it’s all new to us! We have our moments but mostly it’s great. He is currently waiting for a school place so our priority is to get him back into education. He has met my extended family and now recognises people when we’re out in our local community, so he’s settling in well.

We’ve opened up an ISA account for him and sorted out his weekly pocket money. We’ve also registered him at a GP surgery, dentist and opticians – everything that any parent would do.

We also have a 32 year old son who no longer lives at home. We told about our decision before we started going through the application process. He gets on well with our foster child and they’ve been getting closer as they spend time together.

What is the training and support like?

Everything that I’ve done so far has been good. The first thing we did was some introductory training as part of the application process – it opens your eyes and makes you think about what it will really be like as a carer. We were under no illusions though and knew it would be a challenge as the young people are in care for particular reasons. Since then I’ve done a first aid course and started the new social pedagogy training.

There are also monthly support groups for the foster carers. It’s a mixture of people every month so there is always different people you can talk to about their fostering journeys. They tell you everything straight so you can properly compare your experiences. We’ve mainly spoken to other carers with just one foster child, but I really admire all the carers looking after two, three or four young people.

Do you have any stand out moments from fostering?

Well, we haven’t been doing it very long but my favourite things so far are when we can just go out for the day and have a good laugh together. It’s worthwhile to see him smiling and everyone at St Christopher’s is so supportive and comments on how well we are doing. We’re looking forward to what other experiences come our way!

Find out more about fostering