Monday, 12 February 2018

Fostering... a thought provoking game

In the middle of 2017 we asked a lovely new couple, destined to become foster carers, if they would be willing to log their experience through a series of blogs. They agreed and have written content which has made us as a team both beam and raises discussion for the future...

We pick up the fifth entry to their blog at the end of July, after medicals, training and a fire brigade safety check on their house.

30th July
Our ASW is now on holiday for two weeks so assessment will grind to a halt for the time being.  Although we understand people have to take holidays it does feel a little frustrating but as our ASW is such a lovely person we don’t really mind and it’s nice to have a little breather from assessment.

The conversations at home continued about fostering and the age range we would consider.  At every opportunity, we discuss child care and parenting.  We’ve talked about how we are going to change the bedroom, move our belongings out from that room and where they would go, and what new furniture we would need.
We’ve also talked about the changes to our day to day routines but as we don’t have a fixed age range at the moment the discussions were wide and ranging.
We could have a baby, with all the 24/7 demands a small person would have on us, or we could have a school-aged child, school run, after-school activities, lots and lots to learn. Exciting times ahead.

10th August
A fifth session with our ASW...  There has been a two-week break in our assessment whilst our ASW was on annual leave.  It was good to resume assessment and continue the journey.
 This time we were looking at Caring for Children.  The ASW placed a jigsaw of a child on the floor.  Each piece had a word like cleanliness, hygiene, boundaries, identity, patience etc on it.  As we formed the jigsaw each piece was used to initiate a discussion based on the word it contained.  We used the discussion to demonstrate our knowledge, understanding and practice of childcare.  We also reflected, following leading questioning from our ASW, on how our practice could/would/should change when caring for a looked after child.
It was an enjoyable session and less stressful than previous, time passed quite quickly.


Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Time to start training

In the middle of 2017 we asked a lovely new couple, destined to become foster carers, if they would be willing to log their experience through a series of blogs. They agreed and have written content which has made us as a team both beam and raises discussion for the future...

We pick up the fourth entry to their blog after Duncan and Edward had met their assessing social worker who provided them with a few tips, and began organising the different assessments needed (Including one on the dog)!

16th July
A very busy week!  It started with our first individual session.  The ASW wanted to know about my life from 0 to 18.  We discussed my family tree, family live and school life; good things and bad things that happened.   Why I reacted the way I did to certain situations.  What I wished I would have done differently and what I thought others could have done better.  

The meeting lasted over two and a half hours, I was drained and did feel guilty for rabbiting on and on; having had lots of major events in my life.  But our ASW is lovely and although the meeting went over time she didn’t seem to mind. It did feel strange talking to someone we’ve only just meet telling all our personal details, family history etc, but in a weird way was quite helpful.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday was training.  Generally the sessions were led by two ASW; fortunately our ASW was one of them.  Each day there was a couple of Barnsley Foster Carers who helped out and would sometimes lead a session.  

There were about ten of us; couples and singles.  We learnt about what Foster Carers do and why children go into care.  We also had session on transition and identity and the benefits of collecting memories.   It was really good to be able to talk freely with prospective Foster Carers like us and to pick up some insight from the experienced Carers and tap into the undoubted knowledge of the Social Workers.  

At home, that night, we talked loads about what we had learnt. The second and third days were just as interesting and thought provoking.  We discussed behaviour, attachment, panel, strengths and vulnerabilities, how to make notes, standards of care and other stuff.  We met looked after children and birth children of Foster Carers.  A very intense three days. 

At the end of the training we had a bit of a wobble; doubting our abilities but the group was kindly re-assuring.  Over the weekend, we talked, talked and talked again, going over and over the different excersises and sessions we had taken part in, discussing experiences the other foster carers had told us about. We discussed how our lives would change, be busier and move in a completely different direction.
The impact on our household is one we know will be huge and not entered into lightly, as one of us is leaving full time employment after 24 years with the same employer, the decision will be compounded, with other feelings.

23rd July,
We had the second individual session with our ASW this time we didn’t run over. I am more reserved than my partner so found this a little daunting but I needn’t have been.  Our ASW was great and I was able to discuss freely my formative years and my family as I grew up. 

Two days later we had a joint session where we discussed our relationship.  We looked at our strengths and weakness in our relationship, discussed how we might parent a looked-after child and how this would impact on our relationship.  We discussed any changes we’d have to make, not many really, but we considered the impact.


I had my medical which was just the same as my partners though I didn’t have to have any blood taken. The Fire brigade turned up (in a Fire Engine!) to assess our house.  We live in a newish house so everything was ok.  And we had a man in to adjust the cords on our vertical blinds; this was an action that followed the initial house assement.


Monday, 22 January 2018

Making the fostering jump from young to.... teenagers

Since everybody has loved our recent blogs from the #FosteringFathers, a brand new couple recording their steps from the very first stages of becoming foster parents, we thought it would be great to catch up with a couple who've been a part of Barnsley Fostering for a number of years!

Paul and Michael have long been positive representatives of LGBT carers in Barnsley, and it's great to see how they've inspired other people to make that jump to supporting Barnsley's children. But now... they're also supporting Barnsley's teenagers!

"We have fostered with Barnsley for many years and looked after over 20 babies and young children in our career to date.
We have always stuck with younger children always thinking older children would have far too many problems and challenges then we would be able to manage, so we'd never really considered it.


"It was earlier last year that we received a call from the fostering team at Barnsley Council asking us to consider fostering two boys aged 10 and 13. Initially, we were unsure just because of there ages. However, after some thought, and exploring it a little more, we realised our own family is growing and our two boys are getting older... We talked about it lots and decided to meet the boys.

"After meeting them it didn't take long to see the boys were great kids who would fit in well without family and we simply couldn't say no to opening our home to them.
"Now, over 6 months in and now with a 14 and 11-year old, we can look back on a blast of a summer holiday and Christmas! The boys are very settled and doing amazing, we never ever thought it would be like this and although there are some challenges and issues along the way, like with any family, you work through them.

"We're now hoping to offer them long-term stability with ourselves and are working with our social care team to achieve this. We're also hoping to get the eldest boy into the RAF cadets and looking forward to going away in February half term and Easter as a happy unit. Fostering older children really has been a joy and very different to what we expected. We hope more new and existing carers will open the hearts and give it serious thought, give these kids a chance."


Over the last six months, here at Barnsley fostering, we've been amazed by the number of residents interested in becoming foster carers, but we need are more people willing to open their homes to older children who need care, safety and stability.

It's important we can offer them homes and support in the town they know and love. They need support to become independent and grow into their potential as successful adults. If you think you could foster for Barnsley, why not come along to our information evenings or give Kerry a call to discuss it on 01226 775876 

#BarnsleyCares

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Checks for all.... including the dog.

In the middle of 2017 we asked a lovely new couple, destined to become foster carers if they would be willing to log their experience through a series of blogs. They agreed and have written content which has made us as a team both beam and raises discussion for the future...

We pick up the third entry to their blog, awaiting their medical forms early on the in the application process following a visit from the Family Support Worker who had cecked their DBS documents.......


19th June
We returned from a two week holiday in which we spent a lot of the time asking ourselves what we would be doing differently or how we would cope if we had a child with us.  

The medical documents had finally arrived in the post when we got back, So, we sat down that evening and completed our portion of the form.  These needed dropping into our GP Surgery and we needed to arrange a medical for each of us. 
The medical would last 45 minutes each, so finding 2 appointments was a little problematic... We didn’t know how in depth the medicals were going to be but time would tell, and obviously it would be worth it.
Later that evening we sat down to create out family trees; we did this together helping each other out. This was a thought-provoking exercise and did stir up emotions; thinking about family members that had passed away. But a little tear and on with the process.


2nd July
We got an e-mail from the Family Support Worker telling us who our Assessing Social Worker (ASW) is.  We didn’t know the name and was strange thinking we would have to open our hearts and sole to this person whom we hadn’t heard of, never mind met.  But she sounded nice. 

The same day one of us had their medical.  We’d booked a 45 minute appointment with our GP.  The doctor completed the form answering questions on medical history and lifestyle.  He checked blood pressure, body mass index, checked ears, eyes, pressed abdomen and other things but nothing to worry about.  We received an e-mail from our ASW introducing herself and arranging to meet us for the first of our 8 assessment visits. All very exciting and getting real!!

9th July
We met our ASW for the first time.  As she walked into our home for the first time, we were both nervous, one of us sat with note pad & pen, the other relaxed in a chair. We were excited, nervous and not a clue of the process about to start.


She explained the procedure and we planned the timetable of future meetings.  It was really positive to see things planned and getting the ball moving. It was exciting to be given a target date for ‘Panel’; though three months away there seems to be a lot to go through.  

We were equally excited that next week we’ll be having three days training.  The ASW had a look around the house and did a health and safety check and made suggestions of things that needed changing.  There were no real issues and any risk assessment would necessarily have to take in the needs of the cared for child, so there may be further changes we have to make.  Our dog also had to be assessed! 



Thursday, 4 January 2018

Foster fathers... Keeping calm as the wheels start to turn.

Ever wondered what the full journey of becoming a foster carer is like? What it involves? Even who it involves?  Anybody can tell you the rewards of fostering, providing a child with care, stability and support is simply amazing, but how many people know how to be a foster carer? Or what it takes to get yourself foster care ready? What we find is that people find the initial commitment both daunting and challenging, often because it’s entering a world of the unknown.  

Well, good news… in the middle of 2017 we asked a lovely new couple, destined to become foster carers, if they would be willing to log their experience through a series of blogs. They agreed and have written content which has made us as a team both beam and raises discussion for the future.

If you missed the first post from Duncan and Edward, take a look here. 
We pick up the next installment from Duncan and Edward just a short while after being invited to formally apply to become foster carers... 


Sunday 28 May
We received an e-mail from the Family Support Worker.  She needs to come and see us to complete the paperwork to apply for our DBS.  We received a letter in the post inviting us to a Keeping-In-touch session.  We’d have liked to have attended as this was an opportunity to meet other applicants who may be on our training course but we were, disappointedly, on holiday. We immediately sent an email to our support worker, as we were worried being on holiday would be an issue.  

The following day we received an email back, telling us not to be concerned that we were on holiday and couldn’t attend. An appointment was made for her to visit us at home the following week, to get cracking on the required checks.

Sunday 4 June
The Family Support Worker visited to check our documents and complete the application for the DBS.  This was the same lady who came and visited us initially so we knew who was coming out; it was a nice relaxed meeting, just to gather documents from us really. We had a coffee, a chat and because we weren’t attending the Keeping In Touch meeting we even received some ‘homework’.
A list of further documents required during the Assessment process, family trees for both of us, a welcome book for a foster child & having our house checked out by the Fire Brigade.


She also repeated it wasn’t a problem that we weren’t attending the Keeping-In-Touch which made us feel a bit better.   She asked if we had received the medical forms and was surprised that we hadn’t yet received the document to arrange our medicals in the post.  Next Day the Family Support Worker contacted us to say the letter went to the wrong address.  Fortunately the addressees returned the letter, unopened, ‘not-known-at-this-address’.  So the forms were re-sent this time to the correct address.

Foster Fathers... The very first steps.

Ever wondered what the full journey of becoming a foster carer is like? What it involves? Even who it involves?  Anybody can tell you the rewards of fostering, providing a child with care, stability and support is simply amazing, but how many people know how to be a foster carer? Or what it takes to get yourself foster care ready?
What we find is that people find the initial commitment both daunting and challenging, often because it’s entering a world of the unknown.  

Well, good news… in the middle of 2017 we asked a lovely new couple, destined to become foster carers, if they would be willing to log their experience through a series of blogs. They agreed and have written content which has made us as a team both beam and raise discussion for the future.
We join their story at the end of May 2017. Their blog writing began just a few days/weeks into the process, as they begin to submit their application.

We’ll be posting weekly updates on their story through our blog page to demonstrate a truly honest account of the fostering process.

"We're sat at a desk both excited and nervous.  In front of us is an incomplete form.  We're excited because it is something we have wanted to do for a while, yet nervous because we're not sure where this journey will take us.

"We met 12 years ago and became Civil Partners 5 years later. We enjoyed looking after the children of friends and family, whether for a few hours or a few days.  We're confident that we'd be good Foster Carers and we would be able to give some children a helping hand at the start of their lives. We first considered fostering 5 years ago but weren't ready then; now we feel we are.

"We had a visit from a Foster Team Social Worker.  She asked lots of questions about us but it wasn't much more than a chat really. I don't think the Social Worker commented on us being a same-sex couple.  I think we brought it up and it just wasn't an issue.  She had to report back on our conversation and discuss whether we would/could be suitable.

"A couple of days ago we got the phone call inviting us to apply and the form came in the post today.    The form is complete and ready for the post.  Another step on the journey.  It was all very straightforward.  I doubt the next steps will be so easy but I'm sure that we can do it with the help of family, friends and the Fostering Team."


Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Walking in the rain

On Tuesday 16 May the Barnsley fostering team, foster carers and senior managers all met at the Town Hall in Barnsley to take to the streets of Barnsley to promoteFoster Care Fortnight, the UK's largest fostering recruitment campaign. #BarnsleyCarersForBarnsleyChildren

The walk was the lead project of our two-week campaign to promote both the need for more carers, as well as an opportunity to show our gratitude to the amazing carers we already have.  
Throughout the week we highlighted the range of support available for our carers from our own fostering team, to our Chief Executive of the Council, Diana Terris! We even received support from celebrity chef Lorraine Pascale.

When it came to the walk, we all donned our vibrant green t-shirts, brollies and waterproof jackets to follow the route up Race Common Road, through Locke Park and back through the Centre of Barnsley spreading the word and giving out leaflets to promote being a foster carer for Barnsley.

Sometimes, it just takes something as simple as a show of solidarity to represent the warmth our large fostering family can offer.
It was great to see everyone concerned with foster care in Barnsley come together to promote a shared love of wanting to make a difference to a child’s life. There was a strong feeling of commitment from the large group, encouraging others to become a foster carer for Barnsley to be able to keep our children in Barnsley where they belong. 

If you follow us on social media, you probably saw what followed the walk.... CAKE!
We had some fantastic buns, some particularly specific to our cause as you will see below... Trust us, they tasted as good as they looked!

We're already looking to what we can do to support Foster Care Fortnight in 2018. Maybe you have an idea? Hopefully we'll have better weather! and fingers crossed, there'll be more cake! 

If you want to come and talk to us about fostering please call Kerry on 01226 775876; check out the website,  Facebook and Twitter; or come to one of our information evenings that are held monthly at the Town Hall.
We really look forward to hearing from you #BarnsleyCarersForBarnsleyChildren