Before Kerri became a foster carer, she was a teacher in a secondary school. Her family foster and over the years she has seen the progression that those children have made. Feeling inspired, Kerri and her partner decided to begin their fostering journey with Hampshire County Council.
Shortly after being approved as a foster carer, Kerri resigned as a teacher. “My work-life balance is better now than when I was teaching. I can return to teaching on a cover-basis if I wish. We just want to give something back and make a difference.” She says.
“We don’t have children of our own yet – a baby would not fit in right now. Becoming a foster carer means there is little change to our lifestyle. We feel we’re more likely to stay with it because we have little to compare behaviour to. We currently have two teenagers in placement.” says Kerri.
Kerri and her partner applied to become foster carers in January. They began their assessment process in February where an assessing social work met them for an initial home visit to help prepare them for panel in June. Their assessing social worker would visit Kerri and her partner together and on separate occasions. They had to talk about past relationships as part of the assessment process, which Kerrie said could be uncomfortable when talking about breakups.
“We didn't find the assessment process intrusive. We knew that we would have to tell our whole story – if it was my child looked after I would want the same checks known. There was nothing to hide.” she says, “I felt the topic of our family planning was handled sensitively – I think there is a stigma around people who do not have their own children”.
Initially, Kerri thought fostering was about giving love to children who have not had that, but she now realises that some parents love their children but cannot cope. For one young person they are looking after, contact has been increasing with their parents and together they are all working as team to continue building a stronger foundation. Hampshire County Council encourage contact with birth families when possible.
“The reason we decided to foster with Hampshire County Council was mainly because of the training they offer. There is a training pathway which includes courses such as;
- Attending to Identity
- Care of Infants
- Health and Well-being of looked after children
- Cool, Calm and Collected
- Fostering Changes – which is a seven-week course
Hampshire County Council meet the national Training, Support and Development (TSD) basic minimum standards and have good post-18 years support packages for young people. It will be good to hear from more experienced carers and learn from them.” Says Kerri.
“The foster carer who delivered the ‘Skills to Foster’ training was positive about teenagers. ‘Skills to foster’ and ‘Preparing to foster’ gave a good basis to work with. There were some issues that would not be covered in training but as a teacher, I know about development and behaviour. We do have further training booked in our calendar.” She says.
Kerri and her partner have a buddy nearby – buddies are additional support from an experienced foster carer. They also know about the support groups available, such as the National Fostering Network.
“We are early on in our fostering journey, it has been challenging at times, but every job has its challenges. Fostering is enjoyable and I am learning lots from the kids. I am making a difference and I am constantly learning – it is mostly a pleasure being around them. It’s important to hang on to the small victories even if the day has been not so good. We have taken kids to sports events and music festivals for the first time and our dog is great therapy for the young people too. It’s good to be told that I am doing a good job.” Says Kerri.
Start your fostering journey with us today. Hampshire County Council has an outstanding OFSTED rating, reflecting all the work that takes place to help children reach their potential. We offer good support, fee allowances and extras for holiday, birthdays and Christmas. If you, or someone you know has the potential to start fostering please get in touch with Fostering Hampshire Children today - call 0300 555 1384 or visit www.hants.gov.uk/fostering