The title seems absurd as the best foster carers genuinely love children, as you would assume that all foster carers like children. However, the best foster carers, like children, know the important things to them, and they are indeed the best gift for a vulnerable child. But it takes a special person to truly understand children, love them, and recognise the important things in life for children.
I recently asked, what are the most in-demand types of foster carers you need? I posed this with one of the managers from a not-for-profit charity because we must know what they need. If we don’t know, how can we match their needs; more importantly, how do we meet the needs of children in care? She said they mostly needed Sibling foster carers, Step Down care, Parent & Child, Emergency foster care, etc. The types of foster carers are exhaustive; however, they must genuinely like children.
She didn’t pause in her answer. Nor was she mocking me; she said, ‘Foster carers have to like children; the best foster carers are kind people who genuinely love children; they understand them and want to make a difference in their lives.’
Sadly, her reply echoed a recent conversation I had with Byron, and I smiled because it’s true; we need foster carers who genuinely love children. I knew this because Byron had been making his voice, and the voices of other children in care were heard loud and clear.
The best foster carers, by Byron…
Byron is now 18; he is a former foster child. He lives independently in his flat, around the corner from his brother, who were separated when Social Services initially took them into care over ten years ago. I was writing an article for the #FacesofFostering campaign on behalf of Caritas Care in Lancashire; Byron was the subject of our June campaign. The article’s purpose was to understand foster care from a child’s viewpoint, and Byron was ready to speak…
Initially, we were concerned he might not open up, but he did. Byron told me about the importance of fostering for him and his brother as part of a sibling group in care. Also, he shared with me the difference between the best foster carers, like his foster parents with Caritas Care, and those, he felt, were ‘In it for the money.’
Byron’s life had not been easy; for him and his brother. They reunited recently after ten years with no contact, all because of the kindness of Byron’s foster carers, Caritas Care and his Social worker, Lucy. Byron knew his foster carers were with the best agency, Caritas Care, and they understood and gave them a better future together.
The best foster carers understand ‘the important things’ for children…
Byron was clear about his views of foster care. He said he had agreed to interview because ‘it was a chance for him to get his voice heard.’ Also, Byron knew this was a chance to speak up for other foster children because he knew what was important for them and wanted their voices heard.
Byron was concerned about his life after foster care; to have the best life, he needed to have his own money. He was nearly 18, but he had to earn money. He knew he could leave home and get his place; there was no choice.
Byron also knew how important it was to have a good education. However, it wasn’t easy for him because mainstream education didn’t work. Thankfully, his social worker, Lucy, guided him and helped him gain the qualifications needed to secure a career.
The best foster carers understand the importance of ‘family contact…’
Sadly, Byron spoke about some foster carers’ lack of trust in foster children; some had different rules for their own families and another for the foster child. However, foster carers who didn’t understand the importance of regular contact with his family, especially his brother, were the worst. For him, regular contact with family was important, it gave him a sense of belonging to another person, his brother, and without it, they were alone.
Byron knew he had a ‘sense of belonging’ with Caritas Care; however, he knows how vulnerable children feel, and a sense of belonging is vital.
The best foster carers ‘love children and want the best for them…’
I understood when Byron told me that ‘some foster carers think it’s all about them. He said, ‘it’s not about them; it’s about me.’ As a foster child, Byron thought it was their job to know what children needed and what was important. Isn’t that the reason why they wanted to become foster carers in the first place?
Also, he reasoned that possibly foster carers are supposed to like children; some didn’t seem to like him very much, and maybe that’s why he has moved around so often. For Byron, foster carers must understand what is important to children because it’s their future. At some point, they won’t be foster children anymore; they need to be ready for life outside of foster care.
The best foster carers, ‘care…’
With his older sibling, Byron had been in foster care from a young age. Sadly, the boys separated because the elderly foster carers they lived with said they ‘couldn’t cope with both boys.’ So, they kept the youngest, Byron, but his older brother returned to residential children’s care; he never left.
Over time, the boys lost contact as Byron moved to different foster homes. Social workers moved Byron’s brother to other children’s homes miles away; eventually, they lost touch. More importantly, Byron said, ‘we lost touch because my foster carers didn’t know where he was or didn’t care about how vital this contact was for both of us.‘
The best foster carers ‘don’t treat foster children differently to birth children…’
Byron also spoke about how some foster carers treated him differently from their birth children. They had separate rules for him, and he thought this was because they didn’t want him there. He said, ‘I don’t think they liked having me around.’
For Byron, these rules were there because he was the foster child, and they wanted him to feel different. Also,’ they were just in it for the money.’ I wanted to say I’m sure that this wasn’t the case. However, I didn’t say it because I didn’t believe it wasn’t true for one second.
The best foster carers offer children a ‘secure and safe future…’
Byron knew those good foster carers would guide him to achieve the essential things in his life. He also knows that, at times, he may not be the easiest person to live with; but he needs to look to the future and protect himself.
Byron began planning his future when he was 17 and set out to find a home for himself. He wanted a home with ‘no rules that didn’t make sense and a home to call my own.’
Byron was lucky. His Caritas Care foster carers knew what he wanted; they began to teach him to cook and use the washing machine. Also, he became responsible for his room and started doing his laundry.
The best part for Byron was that his foster carers knew the importance of belonging. They taught him to budget and helped him secure a flat with his local council. Thankfully, thanks to the kindness of Caritas Care social worker Lucy, Byron and his brother are reunited.
Byron and his brother now live the next street from each other…
Now Byron and his brother live on the next street and see each other every day, except when Byron is at his former foster parents’ home having tea, at college, or working in the car wash.
Byron knows he was lucky; his foster carers knew him and what was needed. Also, Caritas Care and the team of dedicated people worked tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring that Byron could achieve his goal. With their support, love and genuine care, Byron can look ahead to the future.
However, no matter how old he is, Byron will always belong to the Caritas care fostering family; for children in care, it is the best gift ever.
The best foster carers ‘understand the importance of education…’
Byron told me he was diagnosed with ADHD later in his childhood; subsequently, this explained the behaviour that labelled him as a ‘child with challenging behaviour.’ Byron told me he understands his behaviour more now because of his foster carers, Caritas Care, and he understands the importance of his medication.
Getting a good education was essential to him. Byron struggled at mainstream school but has completed his L3 Car mechanics! Not bad for a child expelled twice from primary school who openly admits he failed his exams because ‘nerves got the better of him.’ Also, he admits his social worker Lucy worked with him and supported him throughout his education; she made a massive difference in his life.
Byron achieved everything with the tenacity and spirit of a young man who doesn’t dwell on the past. For him, his future is important, and he has a promising future because of the love given to him by the best foster carers. These foster carers understood Byron; they genuinely like children and want to see children succeed in the same way they helped their own.
The best foster carers support foster children as they do their own. ‘
The best foster carers inherently know what is needed to help children as they have done for themselves. They know young people’s barriers and challenges; they break barriers and advocate to get their voices heard when needed. Secondly, the best foster carers belong to Outstanding Not for Profit Charities that give unconditional support to help them do the job. As Byron rightly says,’ where would he and his brother be now, without them?’
However, Byron leaving home has left a vast Byron-shaped gap for his foster carers. However, they know they did what they set out to do for him. They took on a young man and made him a part of their family, and they lived together by the same rules; subsequently, they got on with life to help Byron realise his dream.
The best foster carers ‘love children and never give up on them.’
The best foster carers genuinely love children, and more importantly, children know this. These foster carers love children unconditionally, warts and all. No matter what children throw at them, they never give up because they genuinely like children and want what is best for them.
Subsequently, children settle better with these foster carers because they give them a sense of belonging. As Byron says, ‘you can tell who likes you and who doesn’t.‘ He knows ‘we don’t get on with everyone; sometimes we like someone, and sometimes we don’t, and that’s life.’
However, when it comes to matching children with the best foster carers, we must do it well. And matching children and foster carers are where Not for Profit Charities excel. However, matching begins at the start of the recruitment process.
Verve – recruiting the best foster carers for Not for Profit Charities.
We recruit foster carers for the Not for Profit sector exclusively; we focus on recruiting foster carers who genuinely like children with an inherent desire to make children’s lives better.
Many Foster care Charities and organisations have supported vulnerable children for decades; thus, making a difference in children’s lives is what they do best. So, Verve CIC aims to match you with a charity we feel reflects you; subsequently, when we match well, solid fostering partnerships begin. And as a result, children and young people like Byron have a better chance of a brighter future.
Perhaps we should view the world through children’s eyes.
Maybe Byron is the inspiration for the way we think about fostering. He agreed to be involved in the campaign because he wanted his voice heard and, ultimately, talked about the important things for him and other children in care.
Byron’s views show that we have to view life through children’s eyes in foster care recruitment. After all, how can we find the right match of foster carers if we don’t take the blinkers off?
And that is the best gift we can give to any child; Can you foster?
As Byron’s story shows, we make a huge difference when we match well. Can you imagine where he would be if that hadn’t happened? It doesn’t bear thinking about; however, it’s real, and many young people in Byron’s position need foster carers who genuinely like children and want what is best for them.
Can you foster? There’s no cost and commitment, but it’s a start, which young people need. If you would like to chat about fostering with a Not-for-Profit Fostering Charity, don’t hesitate to contact me on the form below. Together, we can all make a difference.