'We would recommend fostering all day long!!!!'

Find out from our dedicated foster carers Nicky and Denzil why they feel that fostering is so rewarding

We are Denzil & Nicky and we live in the Sheldon area of Birmingham. We are first time foster carers but also have three children between us all of similar ages so feel we have a lot of knowledge with regards to the different stages children will go through from babies, to toddlers, to infants, to juniors, to teenagers through to adulthood. By being parents we have learnt that you need to adopt different approaches to each stage of a child’s life/development.Fostering family drawing  We have always loved being parents and ensuring that our children always feel loved, happy and safe. Being a parent is the greatest responsibility and also the greatest rewarding job you can do.  As we both come from large families we also have a large number of nieces and nephews so have been fortunate enough to be able to play a part in the upbringing of extended family members and have been able to talk to members of our families regarding the sometimes challenges that you can go through when raising childrenPicture of house

Prior to becoming foster parents we have also provided respite to 3 young people all with Severe Learning Difficulties and Autism. We developed a good bond with all of these young adults and the feedback from their parents was that they always looked forward and enjoyed spending time with ourselves and all our family members. This experience also provided us with many of the tools that you need to be a foster carer as many of the children who come into the care system have additional needs. I am a SENCO and Deputy Designated Safeguarding Lead in a Special Needs School and I have  a wide range of experience in working with Looked After Children who are in a Residential Care Home Settings or are in Foster Care.

Child with binoculars

We decided to become foster carers as we both felt that would be able to provide a great family environment to a child and also because our children are now grown up they would also be able to offer us support along with our extended family members and friends. We are also aware that children come into the care system through no fault of their own and all they want is to feel a sense of belonging and to feel important to other people and not just like a statistic. We also felt that our own children would act as such good role models for any foster children and would be able to relate to them from a young person’s perspective in regards to lifelong goals and forming aspirations.

Two children playing with boxes

Balancing a family and a career can pose difficult at times, but we have found that with Denzil now being our foster child’s main carer and by myself working in a school this has provided a good balance in being able to still access a job that I love doing whilst having all of the school holidays and weekends to create special memories and spend family time.

We also have created a good routine along with structure and stability for our foster child and have also provided him with opportunities such as learning to swim, accessing an enrichment holiday club and playing for a football team. These are all brand new activities which he has never experienced before and it has provided him with opportunities to form new friendship groups as well as promoting his mental health and wellbeing. Before our foster child came to live with us we ensured that we found out as much as possible about them in order to determine if we felt that we would be a good match with them. We included him in decisions as to the decorating of his room, bedding etc. Putting up pictures of family members, posters and making our environment as welcoming as possible. At the end of every day we always ensure that we sit down together for a family meal and talk about our day and just check in to make sure that everything is ok.Young girl on bike looking at camera

We have found that being foster parents it is particularly important to:

  • participate in things that they like to do and giving them time
  • Ensuring your environment is happy and safe
  • Always ensuring you show them understanding and empathy
  • Giving them space and working at their pace
  • Promote positive praise
  • Be patient and show understanding of their frustrations
  • Always be a good role model
  • Link into and support their aspirations or any goals that they may have
  • Teach them life skills
  • Make them feel safe, loved and important
  • Provide opportunities for them to make new friends such as taking them to the park, swimming etc, which in turn makes them feel like any other child
  • Give them reassurance
  • Be proactive with the school and providing them with opportunities to enrichment activities that they may enjoy
  • By making sure that you offer support …… eg if they join a new football team stay and watch the games and be part of it with them
  • Identify and activate their strengths when they need to make important transition decisions regarding their education
  • Always attend celebration days, assemblies, parents’ evenings etc which will show the child that you want to play an active part in their life
  • Make memories for them such as taking photos (We have made a digital version)
  • Talk to them about what is right and wrong
  • Encourage them to carry on even if they have made mistakes and always show your support
  • Teach them that we are all learning all the time
  • We may not get things right all the time and everyone makes mistakes but we can all learn from them
  • Encourage them to try different things this will be able to provide them with first hand opportunities as to whether they may like something or not
  • Promote independence and life skills
  • Encourage children to take responsibility for their mistakes and not to blame others
  • Avoid pointing out any previous mistakes

Teenage girl looking at camera

The challenges have been that we feel that sometimes in the past we have needed support and felt that, at times we were left to our own devices which could of resulted in the placement breaking down. We feel that the experiences that we have had with children with additional needs have really helped us with the responsibilities of fostering. Sometimes the lack of respite has also at been difficult but as we are strong together as a couple feel that we have had each other to lean on and support each other. These issues have all now thankfully been resolved and our foster child as well as ourselves now have social workers who are reachable and as well as being supportive will also respond to messages and emails promptly which is great to have someone to contact if any issues arise.Teenage boy looking at the camera

We would recommend fostering all day long!!!! But would also say that be prepared to be tested on a daily basis and sometimes be pushed to your limits. However being able to change a young person’s life and make them proud of who they are is amazing!!! To watch a child change before your eyes and want to make something of their life and have aspirations which they never had when they came to you is just the most wonderful feeling ever.

Thanks to Nicky and Denzil for sharing their experiences with us!

To find out more about fostering with Coventry City Council, pop your details onto our enquiry form and we can send you our free information pack. You can also call the friendly team on 024 7683 2828. We also run various information events where you can have all of your fostering questions answered. 

 

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