Becoming a foster carer in Bradford
Jane has fostered children in the Bradford district for 10 months, providing care and support for 2 children aged 8 and 13. Here’s her fostering story:
Why did you choose to become a foster carer?
“Bringing my own children up has been my most rewarding role. Becoming a foster carer seemed the next natural step to take when they grew up.
I only considered fostering for Bradford Council - it was about supporting family lives around and in my community.
Supporting my local council was important to me and it all goes hand in hand with our community links, helping families in crisis.”
How did you find the application process?
“From the beginning, I would say honesty & transparency is the key. No one has a perfect life & I honestly believe they were not looking for someone all singing & dancing. In fact, I am quite boring!
My assessment social worker became someone I enjoyed chatting to, she was very honest and interested in my life.
She listened & acknowledged how I dealt with my own challenges in a positive way, encouraging me that there are skills I could transfer when becoming a foster carer.
She was very honest in what the role involved, and gave me answers to questions or supported me in how I could get answers, always replying in a reasonable time scale.
The key is not to rush with ‘how soon’ and ‘why’ questions. Enjoy the process. Do not overthink things, and make sure you understand everything. It worked very well for me and I looked forward to our interviews.
Bradford Fostering needed to understand all areas in my life - it was not a personal criticism to me if they challenged my answer."
I never felt judged. I honestly felt my assessing social worker did not want me to fail. A very positive process.
Did you have any worries or doubts before becoming a foster carer?
“I had some worries and doubts before becoming a foster carer, but there is lots of information available and support in the application process helped me understand how to deal with any concerns.
My main concern was how fostering would work with my own birth family. I needed to tell them honest facts, both good and bad, to help them understand the challenges ahead for us all to be able to make it work successfully.
I think people's main fear is accusations. Paperwork is the key. It's important to be up to date and keep everyone copied in on any issues, keeping data protection in mind.”
Training and development
Jane became a foster carer with Bradford Fostering during the COVID-19 pandemic, when all training and development programs had moved online.
Nonetheless, all our foster carers retained access to a wide variety of courses and resources to help them in their roles.
“There is the training hub, with lots of courses online; many books to read - you can just sit back and listen.
There is also the Official Bradford Fostering group on Facebook, with Zoom meetings and other training.
I’ve met and made good friends through this process, to run ideas by or just support each other.”
When asked about her top training tips, Jane said:
“Take ownership of your own development. There are so many people who have helped me as soon as I have asked.
My own Supervising Support Worker (SSW) and my child’s Social Worker (SW) have given me so much support, they are there to help with lots of knowledge of training available.”
Which support services have you used and how have they helped?
“At the end of my first placement, I used Bradford’s Behaviour Support Therapeutic Team, where we talked about and reflected on the behaviour of the child I’d looked after.
We talked about how I could learn from how I dealt with the behaviour, and what I could do differently - sometimes nothing! It was a good closure for me.”
The Bradford fostering community
The fostering community in Bradford hosts regular events, meet ups and days out to bring foster carers together and share tips, friendship and camaraderie.
“Like any community, you have to dip your toes in to get support or meet people. I have been proactive in joining things and supporting others.
The Facebook page is very positive, and people work very hard to arrange things.
It works well for me - I can dip in and out and not feel pressured to join everything, but I am aware it's available.”
What is the most rewarding thing about being a foster carer?
“The moments of connection and understanding, the sleeping child that has a smile on their face - so many things.
The rewards are mostly emotional for me: feeling I left a positive memory, a small step to supporting someone.
It's not always about a better life but to help them understand a different life.
Sometimes, things do not work out in that moment but that can be the same for your own birth family. Looking at the bigger picture and getting back on track is so rewarding.”
How has your life changed since becoming a foster carer?
“It has made me slow down and enjoy small things. There are not always answers, just support.”