Foster caring in Haringey offers chance to transform lives of vulnerable young people
- Credit: Archant
To mark Foster Care Fortnight (May 14 to May 27), we spoke to resident Jane* about the immense rewards of foster caring with Haringey Council
Fostering gives people the chance to transform the lives of some of our community’s most vulnerable children and young people.
While welcoming a child into your home is without doubt a life-changing event, Haringey Council have a support network in place to help their carers on every step of the journey. There is also considerable fostering allowance available to foster carers, who can get up to £427 per week, per child, and up to £867 for specialist schemes such as looking after a parent and child.
Haringey Council, like many boroughs across London, needs more foster carers to step forward and make a difference. There is a shortage of foster carers for all age ranges, but in particular teenagers, who need love, trust and support as they navigate their way through secondary school and prepare for life as an adult.
Haringey resident Jane knows all about the challenges and joys of caring for teenage foster children. Jane took three girls from the same family – then aged 12, 12 and 13 – into her home in 2015 and has since seen them develop into hard-working and confident people.
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“Being a foster carer is very challenging and very rewarding at the same time,” Jane tells me.
“It’s amazing to see the girls grow on a daily basis. To watch them represent their school, to see them being selected as ambassadors, then to see them come back home smiling and laughing. It’s so pleasing to see them develop as strong young women.
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“They do things like the Duke of Edinburgh Award, whereas before (when they first arrived) they wouldn’t want to join in with any groups – they’d prefer to stay at home with me. They’ve got more and more confident; they play basketball and they come home wanting to join this group and that group.”
Haringey Council offer an extensive range of support to help those seeking to foster. Aside from the financial aspect, there is monthly supervision from a dedicated social worker, 24-hour expert advice all year round, online training sessions, monthly support groups and an active Foster Carers Association, which offers peer support via monthly meetings.
When asked what advice she would offer those considering foster care, Jane says: “Go into it with an open mind.”
“I took a long time thinking about fostering but I wish I hadn’t spent so long deciding. Now that I’m actually doing it, I love it.
“Foster care children are often among the most traumatised children, but once you give them love and open up your heart to them, that’s all they need. You’re going into it to make a difference, with fostering you feel like you are critical to these children; how they see themselves and how they see the world.
“As long as they know they are loved, they flourish and blossom.”
The Council will host a Fostering Roadshow during Foster Care Fortnight, where those interested in applying will be able to meet with existing foster carers, ask questions and hear a first-hand account of what taking children into care is all about. Sessions will be held between 10am and midday in Wood Green and more information can be found on the Haringey Council website.
Taking on the responsibility of a foster carer involves plenty of sacrifice, but it’s clear Jane think it’s totally worthwhile.
When asked about her best memories since taking these girls in three years ago, she beams: “There are so many!”
“Birthdays, parent evenings, family holidays, camping trips all spring to mind. The first time they learnt to ride a bike and learnt to swim, and the first time they asked me to go to the cinema by themselves was special. When they get 50 merits at school we are invited to a tea party with the headteacher for coffee, tea and biscuits.
“I’m very proud of their 100% attendance rate at school. They know they are going there for a purpose and every time the effort that they put in is outstanding.
“When I met one of the children, she was 12 but had the reading age of a five year-old. Now she is taking her GCSEs – she’s getting 6s and 7s – heading for Bs and in some cases As, she’s outstanding at Art.
“Fostering is all about helping those in need by offering a secure and safe home environment.”
* Jane’s name has been changed for confidentiality