Angie’s son stayed home from school one day to confide in his mum that someone in his class was struggling. A regular parent helper at her sons’ primary school, Angie saw for herself the difference foster care had made to the life of that young person. She was encouraged by her son’s headteacher, who thrust a Carolina House Trust leaflet into her hand, to attend an open evening.
She says, “I went to the open evening, got all the info and it snowballed from there. Everyone was really nice, they came out and visited within a few days. It fell into our laps like fate does sometimes.”
Angie has worked in her father’s snooker club, in a newsagent and as a carer. Angie had previously been interested in fostering but had postponed further enquiry due to ill health. She was keen to use her enthusiasm for nurturing young people.
A social worker visited Angie, Colin and the boys every Saturday morning for a few hours during the assessment process. She describes the process as “very invasive, but OK. We didn’t mind it at all.”
Angie and her husband, Colin, have been foster carers with Carolina House Trust for four years. They care for a 10-year-old boy who has lived with them for two years. They live at home with their two sons, aged 16 and 11.
Angie describes her sons as laid-back and caring, without jealousy or animosity. She advises applicants to talk to their family about what fostering would mean to them and encourage them to share their thoughts and fear. She adds, “if there is one semblance of doubt, don’t do it.”
When asked if her sons are happy having a young person join their family, Angie reports of a typical perspective for two brothers, “[the younger] is happy to have a permanent playmate and [the elder] is happy to have a break from [his younger brother].
She also recognises that the boys can see the bigger picture in life more clearly, how it is important to help and now the young person has shared some of his life experiences they see that they have been fortunate with their family life.
Angie says all the boys are finding lockdown tough at the moment, they miss their activities like ice hockey and roller hockey. She says, “It’s soul-destroying for them. At least in the lockdown we did up the garden, built a summerhouse, we were constantly out on the bikes.”
Angie says their young person really enjoys spending time with one of our Placement Support Workers who has been trying hard to keep him engaged during lockdown and with all the extra restrictions.
Angie’s friends and family were supportive, and Colin’s mum and dad were thrilled the family were fostering. Their young person has chosen to call them ‘Gran’ and ‘Grandad’ and refers to ‘auntie’ and ‘uncle’ like Angie’s sons do. She says, “the family have been brilliant at including [the young person]. He is just one of us. He never gets left out at birthdays or anything like that. Even my pals hand in gifts for him. Everyone is so supportive.” A friend who was a social worker is also a good support to Angie when dealing with more challenging situations.
Angie advises that how well a young person settles into their home depends on a well-managed transition process. Their young person was able to spend time socialising with the whole family before moving in. She has also found that having continuity with the professionals working with the family is important for building relationships.
Angie describes one of the biggest challenges of looking after a young person is education. She shares that care-experienced young people have often had extra challenges and so are behind in attainment at school and need help to catch up. She says, “We worked so hard during those first few months of lockdown at homeschooling. The school are reporting progress in the last year and he is now enjoying literacy.”