Fostering is an amazing role and one that can be incredibly rewarding, but it is certainly not without challenging times. As a foster carer you look after children and young people in your home as part of your family, and while our foster carers describe the experience of watching them grow as incredible, some of these children have come from traumatic backgrounds that impact their emotional wellbeing, behaviour and development.
For many, Christmas is an exciting time as children and adults alike look forward to time with loved ones, festive cheer, gifts and celebrations. Sometimes fostering a child who hasn’t experienced this before can give you the opportunity to introduce them to the many festivities of Christmas day, which can be exciting and fulfilling. However, it can be a difficult time for those who may not understand why they aren’t at home with their parents or who are overwhelmed by a festive buzz that they aren’t used to, stirring up a range of emotions that might be challenging for you to manage.
Where possible, speak with the child’s social worker about what Christmas meant for them before coming into your care. Was it celebrated at all? Were there religious elements to their Christmas? What about their experiences with gifts, Christmas food or other traditions? This isn’t to say that you’ll match their past experiences bit by bit, as there will be many whose previous neglect at Christmas (and throughout the year) will shock you, but it is useful to understand how different your own traditions may be, so that you can prepare to accommodate them and welcome them without overwhelming them.
Over the festive period you’re likely to have more guests in the home than usual or be out and about at the homes of friends and family. It might be worth, if possible and where you haven’t already, introducing the child or young person you’re looking after to many of these people ahead of festivities so that they aren’t overwhelmed with lots of new introductions in a short amount of time or in a small and busy space. Team Fostering’s foster carers also advise remembering to be patient and understanding. Recognise that when things don’t go to plan it’s not yours or the child’s fault, but a result of a lot of emotional challenges and past experiences that are often heightened at this time of year. Remember your support network, your fellow foster carers, supervising social worker and friends, and remember that you are entitled to support from your agency at any time of the year, day and night.
At Team Fostering our 24/7 support service runs throughout Christmas and the New Year so that foster carers are never without a local support worker to contact for help and guidance. Over December we host Christmas events that allow children and young people to celebrate with others in care and with similar backgrounds, where last year a child commented ‘the best part of today was knowing I was around people that were like me’.
We wish everyone the best over the festive season and look forward to spending some time with foster carers and young people.
Team Fostering is an independent, not-for-profit fostering agency that recruits and trains foster carers across the North East, Yorkshire and East Midlands. If you're interested in fostering we're here to answer any questions you have about the pay, support and training you will be given by us.
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