Tag Archives: Foster care

Fostering is one of the best decisions we ever made: #100days100stories

Isabel is a foster carer with Scope’s fostering service. She and her husband foster Rosie, aged 12, and Isabel has shared her story as part of Scope’s 100 Days, 100 Stories campaign. We have changed all the names here, as confidentiality is important in foster care.

I grew up with a friend whose mum fostered disabled children. I’d always thought I’d like to do it, but I thought I’d wait until my children were older.

But then one day at the bottom of my payslip was a message: ‘Interested in fostering?’ And for some reason, I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

We were in our mid-20s when we started fostering five years ago, younger than most foster carers, and our own children, Anna and Chloe, were still very small.

I’ve worked with adults with learning difficulties ever since I left college, and of course I’m a mum as well – so for me, fostering is both profession and family.

Meeting Rosie

Rosie came to stay with us five years ago, when she was six. She goes to a special school, and she has complex learning difficulties. When she arrived, I think she could say one word – ‘no’ – and that was it.

When you start fostering a child you’re shown reports from the professionals who work with them, and Rosie was described as ‘passive’ and ‘stuck in her own little world’. I was told: ‘She doesn’t really communicate, she just cries’.

Over the first few months she was with us, she just completely changed. Soon she was being described as full of life, confident, sociable.

Apparently a little boy at school asked the teacher, ‘Who’s the new girl?’ and it was, ‘That’s not a new girl, that’s Rosie!’

Rosie still has a birth family who loves her, but she didn’t feel safe with one of her siblings, who also has complex needs. When she came here, I think it just gave her the relief she needed to develop to her full potential.

Rosie today

Mostly she just likes bounding about the place! She loves books and photography, she loves playing in the garden, going on the trampoline. This morning we were playing together, feeding a soft toy monkey a yoghurt.

She gets on really well with my own children. They’re just like sisters now – so they get on each other’s nerves and argue a bit! But they care about each other, and they look after each other really nicely.

We’ve done a lot of work with Rosie to help her learn sign language. She still doesn’t have a lot of speech, but she’s very good at making herself understood now.

But I think the main thing we could do was just make her feel safe and secure, and make sure she feels loved and wanted.

It’s not like a conventional job at all. On a day-to-day basis, I just feel like Rosie is a member of my family – the only time it feels like a job is when you have to go to meetings and reviews and that sort of thing.

But when we’re out at the beach or going to school, it just feels like we’re a family.

Getting permanency

After Rosie had been with us for about 18 months, we went through the process that means Rosie can stay with us permanently, through to adulthood.

Scope is still there to support us and nothing has really changed – it just gives us stability and the comfort of knowing Rosie is here to stay. And for us, she’ll always be part of our family, even when she’s grown up.

Deciding to foster was one of the best decisions we ever made. We’ve got so much out of it as a family. There have been lots of high points, but just having Rosie in the family is a high point in itself.

40% of children waiting for a permanent home are disabled. Can you help us be there for them? Please donate to Scope’s Fostering appeal – you can help another disabled child find a safe and loving home where they can thrive.

Film of the week: Fostering a disabled child – a true story

“For the first time in a long time, Jenny and Tom found themselves with an empty nest. With so much more love and care still to give they decided to contact Scope’s fostering service. It was here they first heard about Grace.”

In this new animated film (voiced by British comedian, actress and writer Arabella Weir) to promote Scope’s fostering service, we take a look at the story of Grace, Jenny and Tom. Thanks to the flexibility, support and comprehensive training they received from Scope, they were able to offer Grace the help and encouragement she really needed to turn her life around.

Scope always want to hear from people who are interested in becoming a foster carer for a disabled child or young person. This is the first of two new animations we’re launching to attract new foster carers. We want more people to know about this service.

Check it out below – and let us know what you think!

If you’re interested in finding out more about our service, please visit our Fostering service webpage.

Ann’s fostering story

As part of Fostering Fortnight, Ann (not her real name) was interviewed by BBC Radio Suffolk breakfast show hosted by Terry Baxter.

listen to the interview part 1

listen to the interview part 2

How did you get involved in the Scope scheme in the first place?

Well, fostering is something I thought about for a long time before I started looking into it. I’ve worked with adults with leaning difficulties for quite a long time. I have a colleague who did respite care, and it’s just something I thought maybe I could really do. I love being a mum and one day I decided to research it on the internet and… here we are today.

Now I’m sure there are tremendous rewards in fostering individuals, young people, with particularly disabilities, but there also must be challenges as well, and some would say it’s not an easy option to go for. Tell me why you specifically looked to get involved in this particular area of fostering?

I decided to care for disabled children, because I had so much experience of working with people with learning difficulty. I just felt quite passionate about it really and I just wanted to make a difference to a child’s life.  I loved the idea of giving a child new opporunity and experiences. I just thought it would be a really good thing to do!

Clearly it is; it’s a wonderful thing to do, how long have you been doing it?

I started fostering the little girl I care for now, 2½ years ago and she’s now a permanent placement. We have to have it go to panel for permanence residency, and so she will be staying with us until she reaches adulthood.

And in terms of what is brought to your home, can you describe that?

She’s just brilliant, the whole family loves her and on a day-to-day basis, it’s just like caring for my own children. I’ve got two children aged eight and five, and she’s nine.

She’s brought brilliant things to this family. It is the most rewarding thing that we’ve ever done. Before she came into care, she was described as passive, an empty shell – like she was in a world of her own. People said it was like she wasn’t there. Now she’s described as confident, sociable, full of it and we’ve had such brilliant feedback. People thank us and say whatever you are doing, keep on doing it! Having that sort of feedback makes me and my husband feel brilliant. My children accepted her straight away, and they’re like proper sisters.

Thanks great, I was going to talk about your children. It’s great for the adults in the household to decide to do this, the children tend to go along with it as well. It’s fantastic to hear it’s been a very smooth operation in terms of your children accepting your additional child.

Yes, definitely. I think when she first came to us, my little one was only two and my other child was six. And because they were quite young, they just accepted her straight away, you know with older children it might be a little more difficult, I don’t know, but in my experience they accepted her straight wawy. They love her to bits, and she’s just like a proper sister.

And I can hear it in your voice that she is a very strong part of your family! If people are listening to this, and have a feeling towards fostering children with disability, what advice would you give them?

All you need is to have the right attitude. You don’t have to worry about what experience you have. It’s about having a caring attitude, and you need a spare bedroom. I think, if you’re thinking about doing it, enquire and talk to someone and think about it, because it really is in your reach. All I can say is it’s the best decision me and my husband ever made, and we’ve loved it.

What about Scope? How much help have they been able to provide? Have they been a support for you?

Yes, we have a Scope social worker, and she supported us through the assessment process, because it takes a few of months to be assessed to become a carer. They are always on the other end of the phone if you need advice, support you, talk through any problems. We have monthly supervisions. We also get our training through Scope. They also do things like; they sorted out and funded alterations we needed to our house before our child was placed with us. There are regular foster carer support groups that are organised by Scope where carers can all get together and share their experiences and advice and just have a chat.

So, it sounds like they are there all the way through the process for you?

Oh yeah, they’re brilliant. The support they give you is really very good.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. Good luck, it sounds like you’ve got a fantastic family there and thank you for sharing your experiences with us.