Kibru and Keleme’s Story
Kibru and Keleme have been fostering for Camden since 2005. Below they talk about how and why they started fostering and how the experience has been so far.
Why did you get into fostering?
Keleme and I initially became interested in fostering in order to fulfil our desire to support and help unaccompanied minors from Ethiopia, many of them were looked after by foster carers who did not address their cultural, linguistic and other social needs. On many occasions the problems of unaccompanied minors were raised in our community as well as at the Refugee Council – where I used to work at the time.
We became determined and committed to make a real difference to unaccompanied minors. We then approached an Independent Fostering Agency that had already set up a fostering project for Ethiopian and Eritrean children, and after our approval the Agency placed two Ethiopian unaccompanied siblings on a long term basis. After a few years with the Agency we decide to foster for Camden.
How would you describe your experience of fostering so far? What are the highlights and challenges?
Initially we were anxious about how we could manage behaviours of looked after children, accommodating their cultural and family values, likes and dislikes, and how they integrate into our family set up etc. Once we started fostering, we had siblings from Ethiopia placed with us, who became used to the routines and gradually built our confidence. In fact having our first placement from the same cultural background as ours enormously helped to allay our fears and anxieties and also enabled us to offer a high standard of care.
We have been fostering for Camden for over 10 years now, and during this time we have had children from different background and nationalities. Fostering children whose ethnicity and culture is different from ours helped us to learn about other people, and to appreciate diversity and respect differences.
Successful fostering involves welcoming children into your home and family, understanding and accepting who they are, reassuring their safety and wellbeing and building positive rapport, setting boundaries and providing support in accordance with their care plan.
Although it sounds like a cliché to us the satisfaction and positive feelings we get from fostering outweigh the challenges and the hard work that come with it.
Would you encourage other people to become foster carers?
Yes we would. In our opinion, fostering and adoption is a great opportunity for people to make a real difference to children and young people who are in need of care, and we encourage people to become foster carers.
Apart from its generous remuneration package, fostering for Camden has numerous benefits for foster carers. It has an excellent training and development programme, offers exemption to council tax for local residents, a high level of support from supervising social workers, with recognition and appreciation from managers and directors, the annual award ceremonies for foster carers and other events make fostering with Camden an interesting and enjoyable experience.
The Camden Association of Foster Care (CAFC) represents and provides support to foster cares and works in partnership with the management to facilitate and resolve any issues regarding fostering.
Eva and Vilmo’s Story
How did you get into fostering?
We were first introduced to fostering seven years ago by our friends. They were looking after a small girl back then. They told us that unfortunately her birth mother could no longer look after her, so she was placed in foster care. I became interested in fostering almost instantly then, because I wanted to help children in need.
How would you describe your experience so far?
This is the hardest job I have ever done so far, but also the most rewarding. I feel that we are making a real difference. Being parents to two grown up daughters who have already left home, we have a lot of childcare experience which comes in handy. However, it can be challenging to look after a child who is vulnerable or had had a difficult start in life.
What are the challenges and rewards of fostering?
We have looked after three teenagers so far. Each of them came from different backgrounds and with different values. We always have to adapt in order to accommodate these young individuals and to ensure that they feel safe and happy. They bring pain with themselves and it is often heart-breaking to see. Teens sometimes hide their vulnerability by showing anger.
The rewards are simple, everyday things, like a genuine smile and thank you from them, or when they achieve a certain grade at their GCSE, when they didn’t think it would be possible.
Would you encourage other people to look into becoming foster carers?
Absolutely! It may be challenging but it’s the best job I have ever done. Helping others is the best feeling in the world.