Life as a foster carer in Rotherham
Emma has been a foster carer for 5 years. Emma recently spoke to us about her first year as a foster carer, which we hope will both enlighten and reassure any new or potential foster carers.
Five years ago, Emma and her family were initially approved to foster two children from birth to 11. They prepared by setting up bunk beds with neutral bedding and having a cot ready. Emma also made sure that they had a selection of new teddies ready too.
Emma and her husband already had 4 children of their own, and talked in depth to their children before any looked after children arrived. They discussed the fact that the looked after children may be scared and upset when they first arrive.
Emma goes on to explain that before fostering: “we expected the families to all be 'troubled' and that the children would just need loving. That couldn't have been further from the truth. The families we've worked with have mainly just been at a difficult time in their life - something that could affect any of us. And the children need much more than just love (although that is essential too)!”
When asked what surprised her the most in her first year of fostering, Emma said that “the main surprise was the amount of people involved with the children. In addition to their social worker, there's: doctors, school nurses, school safeguarding, sometimes the police, independent reviewing officer, guardians [and] health visitors. All of whom are extremely supportive, but there seems to be a lot of people to see in the initial few weeks of a child moving in”.
Emma has also discovered that her and her family “like a challenge”. She goes on to explain that her and her family “really take each child as the come, we don't have a list of questions to ask the duty worker. If a child needs us - we say “yes”.
"The ability to make a huge difference to a young life is immeasurable."
Emma has been very candid about the fact that her friendship groups have changed significantly since she began fostering: “Many of our kids struggle in certain situations. Therefore you tend to make new connections within the fostering community. Our best friends now are also Rotherham carers”.
Emma’s top piece of advice is to “make connections with other carers, ask your social worker to link you up with an experienced carer. Attend at least one support group, as a problem shared is a problem halved.
Sometimes you just need someone in the same situation to put a child’s behaviour into context. We have a tendency to link issues/behaviours to their trauma - but it might just need someone to say 'all 10 year olds do that'."
Emma explains how she has received a lot of support from the Fostering Rotherham social workers and that “one in particular was extremely supportive and knew our family well." Emma also underwent “a huge amount of training” in her first year and “builds upon this knowledge annually”. Emma also describes how supportive her husband and 4 children have been: “our kids have made us proud consistently throughout the time we've fostered, and they foster as much as we do. They're all very emotionally mature and can see past a child’s behaviour, to not take offence at things our little visitors may say or do”.
Despite some initial sleep deprivation, Emma said that she would absolutely recommend foster caring as “the ability to make a huge difference to a young life is immeasurable."
Learn more about fostering in Rotherham
If you have any questions about fostering in Rotherham, book a call back with a member of our experienced team at a time that suits you. All our call backs are confidential.