Louise, a respite foster carer from Keighley, has fostered children in the Bradford district for 8 years.
During this time, Louise has supported children between the ages of 3 to 18, helping them feel safe and loved in their local community. Here’s her story:
Becoming a foster carer
Louise’s fostering journey began when she became a part-time Shared Care foster carer for a child with disabilities, helping to support the child and main foster carer with planned breaks and days out.
Though Louise was interested in foster care, she had concerns about whether she could afford to foster a child, and whether she would receive enough support as a single carer.
“I’d worked with Special Educational Needs (SEN) children in a mainstream school for 18 years, then started as a sitter for Shared Care, helping out a foster carer who had children in her care with severe disabilities.
I already had an insight of the role and what was expected as I worked alongside a fellow foster carer. I then got approached by a social worker who got the ball rolling to become a respite foster carer.
I had a secure job in a school, and had a fear of the unknown. My main concern was the financial side, being a single carer, and if I could cope with the children being in my home.
I talked to social workers and other respite carers, who helped me make the decision to go for it.
Though the application process was long, my Supervising Social Worker (SSW) at the time was very supportive and answered any questions I had.”
What is a respite foster carer?
Respite carers (also known as holiday carers) look after foster children for short periods of up to 2 weeks to provide respite to the main carer.
Children usually stay with holiday carers because their main foster carer is taking annual leave; or a child cannot be taken on holiday due to their legal status; or the main carer is experiencing a family emergency.
Once Louise was approved as a respite carer and had completed her initial Skills To Foster course, she began fostering in earnest.
To help her understand the needs of her foster children, Louise took part in a variety of training courses to learn more about autism, first aid and safeguarding.
What advice would you offer people who are considering becoming a foster carer?
“Be prepared to have anything thrown at you, be able to deal with any incident and for ups and downs.
The most rewarding thing is seeing the children becoming independent and gaining self-esteem and confidence.
My life has been enriched due to the diversity of the children in my care.”
Would you like to learn more about fostering for Bradford Council?
Foster carers change lives. If you'd like to learn more about fostering in Bradford, download an information pack today and see how you can make a difference.