Fostering as a single parent
This is Heather…
Heather: My name is Heather and I’ve been fostering since October last year.
How old were your children when you started fostering?
Heather: They were eight. I have twin boys so they were eight years old. They were involved right from the start, right from the decision making. They say they’ve gained an older sister so that’s how they see it
What qualities do you need?
Heather: I think the key ones would be you need to be very patient, very strong and resilient as well. Just to be very kind, very welcoming and at the same time just to make them realise you’re on their side as well.
What’s it like being a foster carer?
Heather: I feel like I’m in such a privileged position to be able to make a difference to a child’s life. The first day when my foster child came into my house, she was so nervous, she was very shy, very nervous, very timid, very scared and you know, within four months she’s been with me, within that time she is now confident, happy, laughing – so just to see that difference is the most amazing thing.
Why did you choose Brighton & Hove City Council?
Heather: To be honest, I wouldn’t consider looking anywhere else. I live in Brighton, I’m very proud of the city and it just feels better with me to support my local council than to look at another agency.
What was the assessment process like?
Heather: I would say overall it was easier than I was expecting. Obviously there are times when you’re looking very personally at your life and your background, perhaps looking at things you haven’t thought about in a long time. But overall I found it to be a really positive experience. Yeah, I would say they were very helpful and nothing was sugar coated either – the challenges were covered very clearly right from my first call, and from the skills to foster training course I went on as well – so I had a complete picture really of what fostering was going to be about when I started.
How do you manage being a single parent?
Heather: Personally I think it’s a very good fit actually, because it means that I am able to foster and obviously benefit from doing such a rewarding role, but at the same time it means I am more available for my own children as well – my children have benefited from me moving into fostering.
What support do you have?
Heather: So, I am very lucky to have a very supporting social worker who comes to visit me very frequently and calls me just to check everything is OK and that everything’s going alright. But at the same time you need to have a good support network of friends and family around you as well.
What would you say to potential foster carers?
Heather: If you feel it’s right for you, and you feel you can have another child in your home and love them the same way you love your own children and you really feel you can do that, then I would say go for it, at least look into it and explore if you think it’s going to work for you and I think it’s important it’s the right time in your life as well.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
Heather: I would just say for me personally it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. To have an opportunity to make a difference, that’s a really special thing to be able to do. So I would just say if you feel you can make a difference to a child’s life and it’s the right time for you, don’t be afraid of it, look into it – it may be the best thing you ever do.