“Just do it, it’s the best thing you can ever do and I’d never go back from it.”
Gareth, 30, is a foster carer for Warwickshire County Council, he explains what the role is like, what it means to the children he cares for and how he became a carer.
“I previously worked in a fostering residential home, working there I realised how unsettling it can be for the children to go from home to home and eventually move to a residential setting. I wanted to be able to offer a more permanent home; that made me decide to become a foster carer.
Gareth is a solo foster carer and helps young people return to living in a family environment following a stay in residential care. The role can also prevent young people from staying in residential care or being cared for in a setting outside of the county meaning they can stay close to their family and friends.
He continued: “I get dedicated support from Warwickshire including a social worker, a social worker for the child and a family support worker. The team come out every two weeks to check in and see us. The family support worker is able to provide support and guidance in difficult times. I also have a lot of meetings with the professionals helping to care for my foster child. The most important thing is that we’re all there working together to ensure the child’s needs are met”.
“Warwickshire offers bespoke training packages based on the child’s needs to give you the skills to support them. For example, I’ve been able to complete training on a therapeutic approach to care, we have access to a psychologist who can support the whole family and I’ve received non-violent resistance training – sometimes a child in solo fostering can have high emotional needs or attachment difficulties and they don’t have the ability to properly express their emotions. This training gives you the tools to help the children calm down and process their emotions in a healthier manner. Each child can have complex and individual needs and Warwickshire are aware of this and want to support you so you’re able to best support the child”.
“Being a foster carer means that you’re able to provide stability and a home environment to children in care. The child in my care had previously been out of education for three years, since coming to stay with me they’ve been more settled and are now happily attending full time education. As a foster carer it's a privilege to offer a place where my foster child can call home, they now know where they’re going, they know they’re here with me and that I’ll support them with everything they need”.
“One thing I really enjoy is offering opportunities to my foster child to try new things. We recently went on holiday and tried jet skiing, it was something they’d never experienced before, and it was great to share that with them”.
“Having a routine in place has been beneficial for my foster child, it helps them to know what to expect and when throughout the day. In the evening we have our meal together, this is a chance for us to sit and talk together about the day. We also have a bedtime routine to help them wind down, we’ll sit and do activities together like puzzles, colouring or reading. You can also have unsettled nights and these relaxing activities can be helpful then too.”
Councillor Jeff Morgan, portfolio holder for Children and Families concluded: “We really appreciate the care and support our foster carers provide to you children in care.
“Gareth and his family are one of 150 fostering households caring for children and young people in Warwickshire. Foster carers offer stability and support to vulnerable children and young people who can't be with their own families. They are well supported by a dedicated team and help to keep Warwickshire children in the county, close to family and community links. We’re looking for more people to join this network of passionate and caring individuals just like Gareth - could this be you?”
To find out more about solo fostering, and the many different types of fostering with Warwickshire County Council, visit warwickshire.gov.uk/fostering, call 0800 408 1556 or find us on Facebook @WarwickshireFostering.
Watch Gareth's full video interview here.