The title seems absurd because you would assume that all foster carers like children. So is it a pre-requisite of the job? For me, it is becoming more apparent that it takes a specific type of person to be a foster carer; and the one thing that I know is that the best foster carers genuinely like children. They understand the important things that matter to them as children. And for a child in care, that is truly the best gift you can give them.
I recently spoke with a not-for-profit foster care manager about the most in-demand types of foster carers they need. Typically, the reply would be for Sibling foster carers, Step Down care, Parent & Child, Emergency foster care etc., the types of foster carers are exhaustive.
I asked this question to help me create engaging campaigns to engage with people thinking about fostering; however, something was niggling me. The campaigns aim to recruit people with skills and experience in caring for children, which is crucial; however, what ‘type’ of people are the best foster carers for children?
So, I asked,’ what type of people, in your experience, make the best foster carers?’
She didn’t pause in her answer, nor was she mocking me; she said, ‘the best foster carers are the ones who like children and understand the important things for them.’
Furthermore, she said, ‘Foster carers have to like children; they are kind people who genuinely love children and want to make a difference in their lives.’
I smiled when she said it because it’s true; we need foster carers who genuinely love children. Furthermore, we need foster carers who truly understand the important things in life for children in foster care. Her reply mirrored the recent conversation I had with Byron…
Introducing Byron; the #FacesofFostering Caritas Care campaign.
Her reply made me smile because I had spoken recently with Byron, a former foster child who now lives independently. I was writing an article for the #FacesofFostering campaign on behalf of Caritas Care in Lancashire; Byron was the subject for the June campaign.
Caritas Care is an Outstanding Not for Profit Fostering Charity, and I love working with them on their campaigns. This month was the story of fostering from a young person’s view who had grown up in care; it was a chance for Byron to get his voice heard, and he did.
There was a worry that Byron might not open up to me, but we needn’t have worried. He opened up, and he told me the important things for him and his brother as children in care; more importantly, he spoke about the difference between having good foster carers and not having them.
Byron had not had an easy life, and when he told me about his life as a foster child, I was sad at the apparent lack of care and thought shown to him and his brother.
The important things for children in foster care are…
Byron was honest in his opinions about foster care; he told me he’d agreed to speak with me because it was a chance for us to hear his voice. More importantly, Byron wanted to speak up for other foster children; he knows what’s important for them, and he wants their voices heard too.
The important things for Byron to speak about was his life after foster care and having his own money. Subsequently, if he had his own money, he could leave home and get his own place.
Byron knows how important it was for him to have a good education. It wasn’t easy for him, because mainstream education didn’t work. However, his Social worker Lucy guided him to get the education he needed to have a secure future.
Sadly, another important area was the lack of trust given to foster children by some foster carers; however, foster carers who didn’t understand the importance of regular contact with family were the worst.
Byron has a sense of belonging to the Caritas Care family. And for him, and the children he helps in the charity, a sense of belonging is hugely important… (there are links to each article at the bottom of this blog.)
It is important for a foster child that foster carers actually like children.
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 need 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; because 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 for them because it’s their future; at some point, they won’t be foster children anymore and need to be ready for life outside of foster care.
Regular contact with family is important.
Byron had been in foster care from a young age together with his older brother. Sadly, the boys were separated when the elderly foster carers they lived with said they couldn’t cope with both boys.
So, they kept Byron, the youngest, and his older brother returned to residential children’s care and subsequently never left.
Eventually, the boys lost contact with each other; Byron moved to many foster homes, and social workers moved his brother to children’s homes further away. More importantly, says Byron, they lost touch because his foster carers didn’t know; or cared how important contact with his brother meant to both of them. Sadly, some foster carers denied him precious contact with his brother and subsequently, they lost touch with each other.
Byron told me that sometimes he felt his foster carers treated him differently from their birth children; they had separate rules for him, and as such, he felt they didn’t want him there. He was pretty blunt about it and said, ‘I don’t think they liked having me around.
The rules were because I was the foster child, they made me 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.
Foster carers must help children to have a secure future.
Byron knew those good foster carers would guide him to achieve the important things in his life. He also knows that even though he could, at times, not be the easiest person to live with; however, he had to look to the future and protect himself.
Byron began planning his future when he was 17 and a half, and he set out to find a home for himself. He wanted a home with no rules that didn’t make sense and a home he could call his own.
Byron was lucky; his Caritas Care foster carers knew what he wanted. So, they started teaching him to cook, how to use the washing machine and be responsible for his room and laundry.
They taught him to budget and helped him to secure a flat with his local council; incidentally, his foster carers and his Caritas Care social worker, Lucy, also reconnected Byron back with his brother.
Now Byron and his brother live in the next street from each other. They see each other every day, except when he’s at his former foster parents having tea, college, or working at a car wash.
Byron knows he achieved this because his foster carers knew him and understood what was important to him. Also, Caritas Care and the team of dedicated people work tirelessly to ensure he could achieve what he set out to do.
With their support, love and genuine care, Byron can look ahead to a future. No matter how old he is, Byron will always belong to the Caritas care fostering family; and for children in care, it is the best gift ever.
A good education is important.
I listened to Byron as he told me how he was diagnosed with ADHD as a child and how this subsequently explained his behaviour that labelled him as a child with challenging behaviour.
Byron understands his behaviour better now because of the support of his foster carers, Caritas Care; and knowing the importance of his medication.
Also, his Social worker Lucy has worked with him and supported him throughout his education. Getting a good education was important to him. Subsequently, Byron has completed his L3 Car mechanics; not bad for a child expelled from primary school and failed his exams because ‘nerves got the better of him.’
Byron achieved everything through the tenacity and spirit of a young man who doesn’t dwell on the past; for him, it is his future that is important. Thankfully, he has a promising future because of the love given to him by the best foster carers. Foster carers who understood him and cared enough to guide him to get to where he wanted to be.
These foster carers give children what they need due to two very important factors.
Firstly, they inherently know what needs doing to help children; secondly, these foster carers belong to a Fostering Charity that gives the best support to do the job. As Byron quite rightly says, without them, how would he be where he is now?
However, leaving home has left a vast Byron shaped gap for his foster carers; but they did what they set out to do for him. They took on a young man and made him a part of their family. They lived by the same rules as each other; subsequently, they got on with life to help Byron realise his dream.
The best foster carers genuinely love children and never give up on them.
The best foster carers are the ones who genuinely love children, and children know this. These foster carers love children unconditionally, warts and all. And no matter what children throw at them, they never give up because they genuinely like children.
Subsequently, children settle better with these foster carers because they give them a sense of belonging and of being wanted. As Byron says, you can tell who likes you and who doesn’t.
He knows that we don’t get on with everyone; sometimes we like someone, and sometimes we don’t, and that’s life.
However, matching children and their foster carers is so important; this is where Not for Profit Charities excel. As a result, correctly matching children and foster carers is crucial for children to settle and flourish.
However, this matching begins right back at the start of the recruitment process…
Verve recruits foster carers for Not for Profit Charities.
Verve recruits foster carers for Not for Profit’s; our mission is to match you with a charity we feel reflects you.
We aim to find people who genuinely like children and have a strong desire to make children’s lives better. After all, Not for Profit’s have cared for vulnerable children for decades; making a difference in children’s lives is what they do best. Subsequently, matching the two is the beginning of solid fostering partnerships where children like Byron will flourish.
Maybe Byron is the inspiration for the way we think about fostering? After all, he agreed to be involved in the campaign to have his voice heard and ultimately; talk about the important things for him and other children in care.
The most thought-provoking aspect of these two conversations had enabled me to understand what is important in foster care recruitment; we have to view life through children’s eyes.
Good foster carers genuinely like children and want to make a difference for them in their lives; they also enable vulnerable children to get their voices heard, which leads children to a secure and safe future.
And that is the best gift we can give to any child; Can you foster?
Find out more about fostering, Byron & Caritas Care.
If you would like to chat about fostering with a Not for Profit Fostering Charity; please contact me on the link below.
You can find the full article for Byron on the following link on the Caritas Care #FacesofFostering campaign listed below…
The important things in life for Byron and foster children are:
Support from his Social worker, Lucy…#FacesOfFostering – Byron on the support from his Social Worker, Lucy. – Caritas Care Adoption and Fostering Services North West
Leaving home and getting his own place…#FacesOfFostering – Byron on leaving home and getting his own place. – Caritas Care Adoption and Fostering Services North West
Helping other foster children…#FacesOfFostering – Byron on helping other foster children – Caritas Care Adoption and Fostering Services North West
Being a part of the Caritas Care family…#FacesOfFostering – Byron on being part of the Caritas Care family… – Caritas Care Adoption and Fostering Services North West
Regular contact with his family…#FacesOfFostering – Byron on regular contact with family – Caritas Care Adoption and Fostering Services North West
Finally, if anyone knows of a small garage near Blackpool looking for a grafter, as Byron calls himself, please get in touch?
I would love for Byron to have a chance to get a job doing what he loves; with a business, he feels he belongs to and with people who know him. Ultimately, he will get the financial security he needs to flourish throughout his life.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07538134694. Thank you; Stay safe.
Val Hogan – Verve Recruitment.