Every year, during Foster Care Fortnight, everyone involved in the fostering community comes together to celebrate the life-changing impact that foster care can have on the lives of children and young people in need. This year, the fortnight celebrates 'Fostering Communities' and the many different groups of people that can make a difference to a vulnerable child. We asked our North East-based foster carer Helen to explore what being part of a fostering community means to her.
"It takes a village to raise a child..."
This is a proverb that means that 'an entire community of people must provide for, and interact positively with children, for those children to experience and grow in a safe and healthy environment', according to Wikipedia.
This made me start thinking about what makes Team Fostering a community...
Team Fostering's not-for-profit status is something that we all deeply care about. Putting children first is something that we all do instinctively, and we don't believe that making a profit out of vulnerable children is ethical.
As foster carers, we care about each other, and we know the children that others care for. Our Supervising Social Workers visit more than some family members and know more about our day to day lives. We celebrate the accomplishment of all our children, not just at our Celebration of Achievement event but right through the year.
When I go to the office for training or support meetings, I'm asked how my tribe is doing. I share photographs and achievements and share a sense of pride when I hear similar stories from others. This can be a toddler being able to sleep through the night or a teen going on their first school trip - every achievement is special, and we understand the importance.
When we all meet up, we talk about the ups and downs. My fellow carers are there for the triumphs but they're also there to help when things haven't gone so well.
When my first young person left our household, I was devastated. I spent the hours thinking about what could have done differently to help him. That night I felt I had failed him. I felt I had failed as a foster carer. But the phone calls that I received from others, from carers and Team Fostering staff helped me move on and get ready for the next child to come into our lives. They understood exactly how I felt. Thirteen years and that young people is still in my life; and we often meet for a cup of tea and a catch up. Everyone was right, it wasn't the end.
The young people in Team form friendships that stay with them; when they get together, they share memories of growing up with Team Fostering, the activities, parties and holidays. I sometimes see children and young people who others have fostered, and we greet each other in the same way as we would with children of good friends, because that's what they are.
If you're considering fostering, you might want to know more about the support that we provide our foster carers, our programme of activities for young people, and the way our carers and staff work together. To begin a conversation about becoming a carer, click here.
Foster Carer Fortnight is an annual campaign to raise awareness among the general public of fostering, exploring real-life stories and experiences from current foster carers. This is coordinated by The Fostering Network, the UK's leading fostering support charity. Read more about Foster Care Fortnight 2023 here.