Foster carers needed in Yorkshire: could you help to take care of a young person?

Could you give a child the gift of love and stability?Could you give a child the gift of love and stability?
Could you give a child the gift of love and stability?
‘A good heart’ is the most important requirement for being a foster carer – it’s not about having a big house, material possessions or being a brainbox.

Those were the words of Allan, a foster carer, who explained: “You have to have a big heart and you have to want to see those kids succeed.”

Allan has been fostering with his husband Peter, for five years through Team Fostering, a not-for-profit fostering organisation which operates throughout Yorkshire.

“This is about the love. If you’re in it for the money you’re in the wrong place,” he said.

Allan had plenty of experience with young people having been a teacher of autistic children, many of whom had been excluded and had had very difficult childhoods. But his husband Peter – a structural engineer – had not. And, being in a same-sex relationship they both thought they may not be the right ‘fit’ to foster. But that’s where they were wrong.

It was at an information stall at a Pride event that they discovered people of any background, any sexuality and any experience were wanted for fostering.

“We didn’t think we could, because we were gay,” he said. But, as Casey Spence, from Team Fostering explained: “The more diversity we have in people applying to foster, the more chance we have of matching the child with the right environment for their needs.”

Having tried various agencies Team Fostering were the ones which appealed to Allan most – not only because they are a not-for-profit organisation whose accounts are transparent to all, but because they also offered fantastic support and training all the way through.

All you need to foster is “A big heart”All you need to foster is “A big heart”
All you need to foster is “A big heart”

“We can phone up 24/7 and speak to someone we know,” he said. “We really needed that at the beginning.”

The camaraderie and support from other foster carers has also proved invaluable – Allan says he’s made new friends for life from interactions with other foster carers. Group outings are held for foster carers and kids and there are regular meet ups – but how much you get involved is entirely up to individuals.

For Allan he wanted something fulfilling to do post-retirement and has enjoyed being fully involved in the fostering service, and in being a champion for it.

“I do a lot of stuff now with recruitment training and talking about fostering – I’m really truthful as well!”

He says he does not sugar-coat the challenges of being a foster parent, and it does not always work out as you want. He and Peter are in contact with all but two of the many youngsters, both boys and girls, they have fostered. They currently have three boys with them and they are a true family he says.

“What you get out of it is love, and pure satisfaction,” he says. “Our three boys talk about themselves as brothers and we are their dads.”

Their eldest is about to take the couple’s surname legally as he turns 18.

“When you can see this vulnerable child and you give them the support, love, encouragement and positive life choices, and you see them grow, it’s amazing.”

Do you have to be married or have had kids?

You can be single or in a relationship, in a home you own or a stable rental, retired or of working age. To be a potential foster parent with Team Fostering you need to be over 21, have a spare bedroom, drive (or be learning) with access to a car, and be available to care around the clock. Often carers are between 30 and 65-years-old, but there’s no upper limit. If you are currently working, then Team Fostering will advise you whether this would work alongside fostering or not – generally if you work part-time, from home, or for yourself and can commit to be there for the young person around working that will help. Other kids and pets in the home doesn’t rule you out either.

Is there ongoing support?

There is financial support but also in-person support throughout with training courses and a dedicated supervising social worker, so you have continuity of contact and can build that relationship.

Before anything is agreed there will be lots of chances to ask questions, there will be home visits and assessments and the whole process should take around six months before anyone would begin to look after a foster child.

Care could be overnight, or weekend respite care, or it could be more long-term. You can choose the type of foster caring that suits your life most. All of this would be discussed with Team Fostering

Once people express an interest in Team Fostering there are plenty of opportunities to ask questions, there will be home visits and assessments and it could be up to six months before you may be approved to foster.

About Team Fostering

Team Fostering has been helping young people and foster carers for 21 years. The tight-knit team means you get to know them, and they get to know you. They offer extensive support, training and development, a comprehensive activities programme, and holidays with other foster families, so you never feel alone.

Find out more?

To find out more about Team Fostering, which works throughout Yorkshire and down into the Midlands, please click here to read more on its website or just pick up the phone and call 0800 292 2003 for an informal chat.

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