Life as foster carers with Fostering Rotherham
Kerry and her partner Michael have been fostering for eight years with Fostering Rotherham. The couple, who both work full-time and have two birth sons aged 11 and 15, are part of the Families Together initiative and provide short breaks on a regular basis.
Kerry and Michael applied with Fostering Rotherham after discussing it with their children and extended family.
“We were in a comfortable position with our family of two boys and after contemplating whether to have another child we decided to apply to foster instead,” Kerry explained, “and because Michael had come from a broken family, we were keen to help teenagers who were facing a similar position. We knew we had enough love, care, and space in our home to go for it, and our large, extended family were very supportive and wanted to help as well.”
The application process was also a supportive experience for the couple, Kerry commented:
“While it was quite lengthy as our circumstances changed but the staff who carried out the application assessment were wonderful and really got to know us as a family."
Respite care, also known as second home care, is a short-term placement where a child or young person is placed with a foster family to allow both the carers and the children to have a rest and often becomes a regular routine for the child.
It proved to be the ideal option for Kerry and Michael, as they both hold full-time jobs alongside family life. Kerry said: "Respite care has been perfect for us as we can offer our time and plan it around our busy lifestyle, while giving other carers the breaks they need and the chance to do things together with their own families they wouldn’t normally be able to do."
During their eight years as foster carers, they have given respite care to four children and have looked after one boy that whole time. Kerry said:
“We have had the pleasure of looking after a boy since he was nine years old; he visits us two Fridays a month, stays overnight and spends Saturdays with us. While there was a break in visits during the COVID-19 pandemic, he returned after 10 weeks like nothing had happened,” said Kerry, “which was just lovely to see!”
The Family Together initiative provides all the training and support carers need and, as a fostering family in Rotherham, there is also access to a friendly and supportive fostering community to share experiences and ask questions.
“We have felt really supported as foster carers,” Kerry stated, “and there are lots of groups and networks, as well as the team at Fostering Rotherham, we know we can turn to if we are stuck with anything. We use the Facebook Group community as well and have good links with other foster carers so if anything changes, we can easily alter dates and times to suit everyone.”
“Respite care has been perfect for us as we can offer our time and plan it around our busy lifestyle, while giving other carers the breaks they need and the chance to do things together with their own families they wouldn’t normally be able to do.”
Naturally, fostering does come with challenges but overall, the experience is rewarding and positive. As Kerry pointed out: “We have faced challenges over the last eight years, such as career changes and bereavement so we have had to juggle things, but the rewards outweigh any difficulties. When you see the child you look after achieve and develop, it is heart-warming and lovely.”
Having the support of friends and the extended family has been very helpful. Kerry and Michael’s friends and family, who describe the family as inspirational, selfless, and amazing, pitch in and offer support when they can. “Our family and friends have been accepting and welcoming of all the children who come into our home,” Kerry said, “and make them feel like they are already part of the family.”
“When you see the child you look after achieve and develop, it is heart-warming and lovely.”
For Kerry, there have been many most memorable moments and she regards their biggest achievement to date as being able to provide the continuous respite support, especially during the pandemic: “Just being in contact regularly and seeing what the children achieve in their lives is a huge achievement for us,” she explained, “especially when they have enjoyed themselves and are so happy that they can’t wait to return for their next visit.”
Kerry concluded: “You do need to be caring, selfless and have lots of patience and be fun-loving and child-focused; be led by what they want to do and what their hobbies are.
Learn more about fostering in Rotherham
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