We are L and J, newly approved Foster Carers for Next Stage for Fostering.
We began thinking about fostering by researching agencies online and liked the welcoming feel we got from The Next Stage website and listening to the videos of Foster Carers from the agency. When we made contact with the agency, we received a quick response and were visited very soon after our initial contact. This made us feel valued straightaway.
We began our fostering assessment with our Assessing Social Worker visiting us at our home. 6 weeks prior to our approval panel, the country went into Covid 19 lockdown. We were worried that our approval panel and fostering journey would be delayed but Next Stage ensured this did not happen. We continued our assessment sessions and training via zoom, which was a good way of completing the assessment and the level of support and contact from our assessing social worker was excellent.
We stayed on track and were approved as foster carers in May 2020. The approval panel took place by Zoom. We enjoyed the fact that we could stay in our home as we felt much more relaxed. The experience was positive, and we still felt we had the support of our assessing social worker despite this being a virtual meeting.
Four weeks after our approval and while the country was still under strict Covid 19 restrictions we welcomed two children into our home. Although the restrictions could have been viewed as an issue we feel lucky as the restrictions have actually given us time together with the children to build strong relationships and develop as a family unit.
We have been asked to care for the children while Court assessments take place and a final court date is scheduled for the end of the year where decisions will be made about the children’s future care arrangements.
To make things work for us all, we have ensured we have established routines to enable the children to settle with us.
Facilitating contact for the children with their birth family via zoom has been challenging on occasions for the children and ourselves as this is not always a natural environment and children do not get the same interaction they would with direct contact, but like all aspects of fostering we have been able to talk this through with our Supervising social Worker.
We have felt really well supported and welcomed as part of the Next Stage for Fostering family. The staff at Next Stage are all very experienced which has been a real positive for us as new foster carers and there is always someone available for us to talk things through with. We receive lots of reassurance and encouragement from our Supervising Social Worker, which we value as new carers and welcome this feedback.
We have very much appreciated how much our birth children have been valued throughout the process and our supervising social worker has taken the time to build a relationship with them both, so we feel confident they can speak to her if they have any worries.
We have loved taking part in the virtual Foster Carer support meetings and the Children groups which have been so much fun, and we are looking forward to when we can finally meet other fostering households in person.
We would encourage anyone thinking about fostering to contact Next Stage as they will give you clear, honest advice about fostering and how this may fit with your own personal family circumstances.
If you would like to find out more information about becoming a Foster Carer or you know anyone who may be interested, please pass on our contact details: 01204 201203 email@example.com.
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