Foster family portait

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto/omgimages

My career has been punctuated by encounters with people.

That’s the nature of social work, I guess.

Apart from some amazing teenagers, the group who’ve impacted me the most has been foster carers. They never cease to astound me!

Why foster carers rock!…

Working with troubled young people can be a real challenge, as well as a delight. But most of us get to go home at the end of the working day.

Foster carers keep right on going. They work the night shift too. Every night.

It’s one thing to do your eight hours and then go home to rest and re-group. It’s quite another to have the client living in the back bedroom!

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Sharing life…

This is the bread and butter of good foster carers – they give more. In fact, they give themselves. They share their lives. Here’s how:

  • Home – this is a place where we feel most safe. It’s our space. Foster carers share this with other people’s children. Children who often haven’t had a decent home before…and who may not respect it. At least for a while. And in some cases…for years.
  • Patience – such children can be very demanding. Very challenging. It takes a special kind of person to expose their safe place to kids who may not value it – at least not yet. But in time most of them will. Till that happens, it takes bucketfuls of patience-day in and day out-to help them get there.

This is the bread and butter of good foster carers – they give more. In fact, they give themselves.

  • Family – this is usually the cause of children’s problems. In some way or another, family, care, nurturing has gone wrong. It takes guts and sacrifice from foster carers and kinship carers to expose their own family to a child’s learning process, which can often be prolonged and traumatic. This is, however, the greatest gift of all – a surrogate family.
  • Love – for some reason which still eludes me, professionals tend to shy away from this word. Love. But it’s my firm belief that many of the carers I’ve come across do more than offer board and lodge to a child. As we’ve said, they give their home, their lives and their family to troubled children. In short, they love them.


Final thought…

So next time you or I have had a bad day at the office or dealt with some difficult people, we should spare a thought for those whose working day started when the child got up this morning and won’t end till they go to bed tonight.
Spare a thought for foster carers – those most extra-ordinary people!

I’d like to send you my FREE e-book, ‘Connecting with Troubled Young People’ – just click…


What do you think?…

  • Are you a foster carer? Why do you do it? Please tell us one of your fostering stories in 100 words or less…
  • What advice would you give to the rest of us?

Please let me know your thoughts…   Join in the conversation – Leave a comment below or click here.


Interested in becoming a foster carer?…

  • To find out more, click here


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