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Julie - Solo fostering

“I had worked with young people for many years, I had experienced a range of challenging behaviours within a work setting including mental health difficulties, problematic substance misuse and sexually inappropriate behaviour. I have a fantastic support network of family and close friends and live in a warm, loving home with my partner who wanted to do this as much as I did.”

“I had expected difficult times, unpredictable behaviour, raging hormones, discussions and disagreements and both my partner and I were ready to deal with it all, together with the help from our Social Work Team. I knew life would change, giving up my job and being able to spend time at home sounded positive and we would soon adjust to having another person living with us. I wanted to offer a young person a chance of living in a family home, I was looking forward to offering them warmth and love that they perhaps had never really experienced before.”

“The assessment process was detailed and gave us lots of opportunity to look at ‘real’ young people and different scenarios so we were prepared as much as we could be for solo fostering. We also were able to attend training during the assessment which was beneficial to us both.”

The reality

“Before we had the young person placed with us we took part in a variety of meetings including the matching process, ensuring services were going to be implemented when the young person arrived with us. We felt we were listened to regarding the matching so that the young person placed with us was a good match.”

“The first week was lovely, we had a polite and compliant young lady who was keen to help out and ‘fit in’. Week one’s reporting was equally ‘easy’ having had no particular issues. Six weeks on, it is a very different story…… The simple reality is that no amount of experience, training or support could have prepared me (or us) for this. We have no children of our own, and I quickly learnt how even the most basic things (like how many packets of crisps a day should she be ‘allowed’) caused us to seek advice and support from others. We had never even considered the simple things!”

“Every day brings a new challenge, different behaviour, highs and lows, hysteria and tantrums. I have had to become a mind-reader, an expert on body language, develop the patience of a saint and most importantly learn how to very cautiously and carefully choose the battles!”

“However we wouldn’t change it for the world! I can hand on heart say that it has possibly been the most challenging 6 weeks of my life, but today when she put her head on my shoulder and played with my hair just for a moment, the difficult times melted away and it was worth every second.”

“My Social Work Team are very supportive; we have a Fostering Social Worker and Social Care Worker especially for us, as well as the child’s Social Worker and their managers who offer support and guidance. They are always just a phone call away, and yes they do respond promptly, not just helping with difficulties but also there to share the good times, the breakthroughs and the funny things that happen. I have weekly support visits, alongside the telephone calls and am included in two weekly meetings with all professionals to discuss what has happened and how to move forward. Sometimes just another pair of ears helps, to run past an idea or thought because no matter how much experience, qualifications and training, at the end of the day we are just human beings.”

Behind the emotion and challenges is just a young person who is trying to make sense of their lives and if I can help, even just a little bit, then it is all worthwhile. We are both pleased that we decided to proceed with the solo scheme and feel that it was the best decision for us.”