Delinquent. Troubled. Neglected. What do all these words have in common? They are all words used to stereotype and confine youth in the foster care system.
Imagine constantly being surrounded by kids who live with their parents and have people to call mum and dad. But you know you have to go back to a home with people who are just there to help out. This makes you feel self-conscious and ashamed of your identity when you’re really no different from anyone else. Children in care often struggle with the decision of revealing that they are in foster care. They wonder how the person will react after they’ve told them and if they would be treated the same afterwards. Growing up in the foster care system can be difficult, but is nothing to be ashamed of.
The media has always portrayed youth in care in a negative way. They are either poor and disadvantaged children or miracles because they’ve somewhat succeeded. For example, let’s look at the movie ‘Annie’. It’s about a poor and unprivileged girl who succeeds because she was taken in by a wealthy man. Nobody sees that she’s actually tried to make the most of her situation and be the best she can be.
Did you know that John Lennon, a member of the Beatles, actually grew up in foster care? Even people who are respected worldwide and are looked up to have been in care. This shows that the stigma of kids in care isn’t always the truth. Lennon went through a tough childhood after his mother neglected him yet he still coped with it all and grew up to be in one the most influential boy bands in the world. Steve Jobs, Marilyn Monroe and Nelson Mandela are others who were also in foster care.
There are over 100,000 children in foster care in England. The reasons for children being placed in care are domestic abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol abuse, parent’s medical/mental health, or parents struggling to cope with their child’s behaviour or disability. However, the main reason for children being taken away is abuse or neglect followed by family dysfunction.
You’re probably wondering, what’s really the point of this speech. Well, what I’m going to tell you is why we need the foster care system and how everything would be a mess without it.
The foster care system is stereotyped to be a horrible and monstrous system that rips children away from their parents, when in reality the system actually helps removing kids from the danger of their own home. Children from new-born up until the age of 18 have been living in conditions that are so horrid you can’t even imagine. No child should have to go through that. Without foster carers where would these children go? They could end up on the streets or worse, be placed into a children’s home, which can be very traumatic for a child. Foster carers provide a safe and loving environment for these vulnerable children so they can have the chance to live how they should have before. These kids haven’t been given an opportunity and deserve to be given one as much as we all do.
I actually didn’t really know much about foster care or what wonders it can do for a child up until about 2 years ago when my parents made the best decision they could have and became foster carers. Being able to bring in babies and children into our home and giving them a chance is the best thing we could ever do. I’ve seen how traumatic life can be for children even at the age of 2 years old. A toddler once came into our care and on the second day of her being in our home, she already called my mum ‘mama’, just treated the word like any other. She came from her house all dirty, she ate with her hands and wanted to sleep on the floor because that’s all she ever knew. My family managed to make a difference in her life and help her change in under a month. That was only one child so imagine all the others who are still in those conditions and perhaps worse. We kids don’t realise how privileged we actually are to be loved and cared for by our own parents. Let’s all be grateful that we’ve got a roof over our heads and can share it with our families.
I hope today I have managed to change your view about fostering, and in the future you may choose to help those children who have not done anything wrong to be in care and give them a chance to live their lives. Thank you.
We always had fostering in the back of our minds but when we became parents to three children we were not sure how that would fit into our lives. At the same time, we were still feeling this strong urge to do something to help children in our neighbourhood who for whatever reason are not receiving the love, care and support they need. We saw fostering as a way to help families and especially the children in those families whilst they access the necessary help to overcome the problems they may be experiencing.
A close friend who also has children had just been approved by Enfield Council. She spoke about the excellent support she was given throughout the assessment including the opportunity to speak to other fostering households already fostering and managing families of their own. She also explained how her children’s views about fostering were explored and taken into account too. This together with details of the ongoing support structure from the fostering service and other foster carers at Enfield gave her the confidence to take her interest forward. This in turn inspired us and made us think that the perfect moment we are waiting for may never come so just go for it. And so we did!
Starting from the very first contact with Enfield Council’s Fostering Service we have always felt supported. We were always kept in contact with and moved through the assessment stages at a pace we were comfortable with. Following our approval our dedicated supervising social worker has been an excellent source of support. There for any questions or concerns we may have and also providing us with up to date information, the sharing of best practice and any recommended training courses relevant to our placements.
This great level of support and training helped us develop very quickly the skills and confidence to meet the needs of the children in our care. So, if we come across any challenges we see these as rewarding opportunities as you work with professionals and the family to meet the child’s needs and find solutions. You get to be very close to the children, even if it’s just for a few days, so saying goodbye is always a sad time but you take comfort in knowing the incredible impact you had and your ability to provide so much more than just stability and a good support system.
We have been fostering now for a few years and cared for several foster children between the ages of 0 (newborn baby) to 10 years old. These were placements for immediate care (emergency), taking over another carer’s placement for a while (respite) and for a specific period until the child moved to a permanent home (short term). We have been really impressed by our children’s positive and accepting attitude to having a number of different children in our home. They get involved where they can, talking and playing with the foster child, so they do not feel lonely. These are wonderful moments and we feel this experience will help shape them into being the kind and caring people we want them to be.
So, we can definitely say fostering transforms lives. Not just for the foster child but for the foster carers and their families too. It would be great if we can have more foster carers in Enfield continuing to make this positive difference. We always encourage people in the borough to consider fostering. We tell them about our amazing and rewarding journey and that they will have the chance to make a real difference to the lives of children in foster care. We also let them know about the great fostering allowances, excellent 24-hour support and fantastic training opportunities. You are definitely looked after and certainly not doing this on your own.
Enfield’s children in care need you so please take the same step we did and find out more about fostering today.
We have been carers for nearly 18 years and fostered 18 children in that time, some for only a matter of days and others for longer. We have cared for children from birth to ten years old and currently have one child living with us along with four of our six children.
We started considering fostering when Sharon wanted a change of career from banking but still wanted to be at home and around for our own children. Our youngest was three years old when we were approved and took our first placement. We had a friend who was a foster carer, which set the seed of an idea, and whilst already being active in our local community, running a local sports club and being a school governor, we approached Enfield Council to enquire about fostering.
The process was fairly straight forward and very interesting. An initial meeting, some training to start to prepare us for what was to come and then an assessment where we took a look at us as individuals and a family to understand how we could support the children in our care. This was supported by our own dedicated social worker who took us through the process and whilst our own social workers have changed over the years, our social worker is a person who we can talk to and get support from whenever we need it. We can also get guidance and help from the diverse group of fosters carers in Enfield, directly or via regular support groups.
Fostering can be challenging however the rewards far outweigh any difficulties that may be encountered. Seeing the difference in a child that will not have not had the best start and knowing you have helped make that change and set a new course for the child is priceless.
We are committed to fostering as a family; our children, family and friends all play a part to improve the lives of the children we care for. We have also made some amazing friends on our journey so far.
We are using our experience to support Enfield Council’s fostering team to set up some introduction sessions in our home where people we know can pop along on an informal basis to get more information. It will be a great opportunity to ask us and our supporting social worker any questions to help them take that first step towards an amazing opportunity to give children in need a better future.
What is fostering? Fostering provides stability, care and family support to children or young people who are not able to live with their parents. There…
Enfield Council foster carers go above and beyond to give children and young people a safe and secure home, making a big difference to their lives. As foster carers Phil and Sally explain:
“We do not have children of our own, so it seemed natural for us to become foster carers so that we could help lots of young people by giving them a secure and loving home and being their advocate.
“We have been foster carers for just over a year now. During this time we have seen several foster children stay with us. We take children aged from birth to 18, and whilst some placements may be for a short time, for example to give a parent respite, some children stay long term as they cannot return to their families.
“Being a foster carer does present some challenges, but it is immensely rewarding. The hardest part is letting them go.
“You take a little person into your life, and you help mend them and set them on the road to adulthood feeling loved and valued.”
“In the relatively short time we have fostered we can see how foster care doesn’t just transform the lives of children and young people – it also enhances the lives of foster carers and their families too.”
“It would be great if more people would consider becoming foster carers with Enfield Council, the support we have received from social services is excellent, and our application was brilliantly handled.”
Enfield Council needs to recruit more foster carers who can help bring a sense of family and belonging to vulnerable children and young people, so please contact Enfield Council’s fostering team today and help transform the life of a young person.