Colleen tells us what it’s like to be a foster carer

23 May 2016

Written by: Fostering and adoption team

Children and young people

As part of Foster Care Fortnight 2016 we spoke to one of our foster carers about her experiences.

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Colleen tells us what it’s like to be a foster carer
  • How long have you been fostering?

Just over a year.

  • What age group are you approved for and how many children have you looked after in the past year?

I’m approved for 0-18 year olds.
Over the year I have looked after 4 children aged between 8 and 12 years. The longest placement has been 3 months.

  • Why did you decide to become a foster carer?

I used to work with young people who were excluded from school aged 11 to 19. After being made redundant I wanted to use my skills, knowledge and experience to help people. During that time my daughter also left home which meant, I had a spare room and as I had been thinking about fostering for a while I decided to apply. When I was first approved I fostered for a fostering agency, but due to lack of children needing my care, I decided to contact Lambeth’s fostering team.

  • You are very busy promoting fostering at your local church, how did this come about?

I became heavily involved with my local church before I started to foster. During Fostering Fortnight in 2015, I attended a Social Event organised by Lambeth’s Fostering Team where they asked for volunteers to help with recruitment of new foster carers. I spoke with the pastor at my church and an event was organised for church members to come and find out more about fostering. Together with another foster carer from Lambeth, we both gave testimonials at our church event. I try to promote fostering as much as I can and refer people to the Fostering Recruitment Team who are the people to undertake the approvals of new foster carers.

  • How do you feel about your experience in fostering so far?

When I first enquired into fostering and started attending the foster carers meetings I heard other carer’s experiences of fostering. When a child is placed, reality hits, fostering can be challenging, very challenging.

My family, peer mentor, backup carer and supervising social worker (SSW) have been really supportive and call me on a regular basis. I think that your support network is extremely important particular if you are single carer. I also think it is important to be in tune with knowing what the young person needs and try to meet their needs.

The child I am currently looking after has special education needs and is eight years old. She can get a bit hype-active if she has too much sugar! She has her challenges but I am very proud of how far she has come. I have a lot of support offered by Lambeth that has helped me provide the best care possible for her.

  • What challenges have you encounter in fostering?

One Saturday she went to youth club, when she returned she was clearly very unsettled and as it is difficult for some foster children to express themselves in words, she showed us she was very upset by damaging some things in her bedroom. It was a distressing time for us all but it was her way of calling for help, she said that she didn’t want to keep moving foster placements and that she wanted to stay with me…this was very emotional for me.

I knew it wasn’t her and she really is a loveable rogue. During this period I decided to reach out for support from my SSW and the carers support group, who were all very encouraging and helpful.

  • What are your thoughts on recruitment of carers?

I always look for opportunities to promote fostering and share my experience with people who may be interested in fostering, or know someone who is interested.

  • What are 3 words to sum up fostering?

Making a difference, challenging, different every day.

Find out more

Foster Care Fortnight 2016 will take place from Monday 16 to Sunday 29 May 2016

You are invited to attend one of our Fostering Fortnight Information Session at International House on the below dates and time where you can talk to some of our foster carers and team members:-

  • 26 May 2016 – 6:00pm to 7:30pm
  • 31 May 2016 – 10.00am to 11.15am

To register for an information session or for further information on fostering you can email or call us on the details below: