Wiltshire Publications

Take a fresh look at fostering

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CURIOUS about fostering? Want to know more about what it is like to foster in Wiltshire? Now you can find out from the comfort of your own home by joining a live question and answer session this week.

The session is on Thursday 21 May from 7:30pm via this link Join the Wiltshire Council fostering information webinar

Cllr Pauline Church, Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Skills said: “Wiltshire Council has improved the support and benefits available to foster cares and will be holding a live question and answer session on Thursday. People can put questions to the fostering team.

“During the session, a foster carer will also be sharing their stories, giving insights into the highs and lows, the challenges and rewards of being a foster carer.

“We have recently launched a campaign to recruit 100 more foster carers over three years and we know there are people out there who may be considering fostering – we’d like them to get involved and find out more.”

The campaign, with the hashtag #FosterFor Wiltshire is accompanied by an improved pay structure for foster carers and support and benefits.

People can foster if they have a spare room, are over 21 and have space in their heart to foster. Wiltshire Council is also considering changes brought in by the government so that some fostering assessments can be completed more quickly.

Selina and Justin Kirkbride have been foster carers with Wiltshire Council for just under three years and said: “We have a sense of purpose when we have children staying with us. When they first come, they can be quite traumatised, but being able to look back to see the difference you have made and the confidence you have given the children, building their confidence and seeing some children settled in a new adopted family is very rewarding”

Anyone thinking about fostering or who wants to know more can join the fostering information webinar and ask questions of the foster care team.

The session follows a successful online session on 12 May where people asked a range of questions. The sessions are taking place during Foster Care Fortnight.

People can find out more information by:

The Fostering Experience – Selina and Justin Kirkbride

We have been fostering for three years in August. The years have gone quickly, and we have fostered six children in total, all short-term.  One was for 10 months, another was for 14 months and one was for three weeks, which was as an emergency.  We have two children with us now.  We foster children who are preschool and younger primary aged children, up to aged 8. We have fields with horses around us and live in a thatched cottage. We keep hens which we find ideal but not all the children want to be here at first they find It hard being away from home.  Living in the country is great for the little ones.  We have fostered older children but are more comfortable with the younger ones.

We have a horse and go to the stables most days and the children help out. They love the hens and feel they have a sense of looking after something and love getting the reward of eating fresh eggs and baking with them! The children have free range being in the country. We go for walks, often by the river and we talk about things we have seen and will go home and learn a lot about nature, finding out what something is if we do not know. I love talking about things, so the children can learn about them and use these things as part of education. With the older children it is all high tech, but with the younger ones it is nice to keep things simple, like nature, but use the technology to find out what something is.  It is nice having time to listen to the children

Why I wanted to foster?

We had been talking about fostering for a long time. When my dad died it brought back memories of being a child from a big family and remembering we didn’t really have any money, but I had a great childhood.  I wanted to give back to others a simple life, free morals.

Simple things matter to a child.  Listening to a child, having empathy and praising them for the small things.

Highlights

Turning the children around.  When they first come, they can be quite traumatised. Being able to look back to see the difference you have made and the confidence you have given the children, building their confidence and seeing some children settled in a new adopted family.  It takes time to see that you have made a difference, other people in your life will see the difference before you do and when they feedback it helps.

Challenges Faced

Gaining a child’s trust is challenging, most of the time they have had knock backs and negativity in their lives.  You have to prove to them they can trust you.

Greatest Surprises

We were surprised how much we like the little ones.  We were surprised by how much we helped to turn around a child’s life and prepare them for adoption.

Support

Friends and family are a good support network.  Being part of a big family and involving the child gives them a sense of family.

Support from Wiltshire Council

The supervising social worker is brilliant.  If we contact them, they will come back straight away.  If we need support from the Fostering Team we will seek it and everyone, including the managers are supportive. The courses offered are good for the skills needed.

Advice to People Considering Fostering

Be prepared at how traumatised some of the children can be.  These children need a lot more than your own children do.  We first thought it would be like having our own children, but it isn’t.  You need to have empathy and think how they may feel.  You need to listen to them and be patient and try to understand them.

Take all the courses you can and learn new things to put into practice which is a massive help. Make sure you have your support network, friends and family.  You need to have your family on board with it and for them to understand that you might want to go to a family event, but you may need to cancel it last minute they need to understand this can happen. Have clear fair boundaries and be consistent, the children thrive on routine!

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