Fostering children and young people with a disability: A Q&A with Foster Carer Saba
20 July 2023
20 July 2023
Fostering can be both a rewarding and challenging experience. In particular, caring for a child or young person with a disability can present its own, unique set of challenges.
We spoke to one of our foster carers, Saba, to find out more about her experience of fostering children with disabilities…
Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m Saba, and I have been fostering for a total of 16 years. Prior to joining Olive Branch Fostering a few years ago, I was a single carer. I then got married and decided to foster with my husband.
What made you become a foster carer?
Whilst growing up, I witnessed the positive impact of foster care on someone I grew up with. I admired how the carer took them in and provided them with a safe haven and a place to call home.
When I moved to my own home at the age of 23, I had a strong desire to help children in need and make a positive impact on their lives. I was then in a position to provide a stable and nurturing environment for children who may have experienced neglect, abuse, or other challenging circumstances.
How many children do you foster?
We foster three children, who all have different and individual needs.
The first of the trio is a brave and resilient child with learning difficulties. I educated myself about her condition and work closely with the doctors to manage her symptoms. She is currently being educated at home with support from carers, school and Olive Branch education lead. It hasn’t been easy, with umpteen hospital trips and sleepless nights. Through it all, we face each day with a smile. Her determination and courage inspires me and everyone around her.
The other two have their own unique struggles. I work closely with the social workers and teachers, implementing individualised strategies to help them.
Can you tell us about some of the unique skills you need to become a foster carer?
Foster carers need to have patience and resilience to handle the complexities and uncertainties that can arise in the foster carer’s home. Children may exhibit behavioural challenges, emotional outbursts, or attachment issues due to their past experiences. Foster carers should be able to remain calm and supportive, adapting to the unique needs of each child.
Good communication skills are also crucial for foster carers to be able to connect with children, understand their needs, and advocate on their behalf. Foster carers should be able to listen actively, express themselves clearly, and establish open and honest lines of communication with children, their birth families, and professionals involved in the foster care system.
The foster care environment can be dynamic and ever-changing. Foster carers should be adaptable and flexible, able to adjust their parenting approaches and routines to accommodate the specific needs and preferences of each child. They should also be open to working with birth families, social workers, and other professionals to create a supportive network around the child.
What skills do you need to care for a child or young person with a disability?
Caring for a child with a disability can be demanding, so you will need a good support network. I have received this from Olive Branch throughout the years of fostering with them. This comes through training for specific needs of a child, support in meetings when advocating for the child and always being on the end of the phone whenever needed.
I have friends and family who are my ‘backup carers’, in case I require any form of support or respite. I think it is important to also prioritise self-care activities that help you recharge.
It's also important to recognise that each child is unique, and their needs may change over time. Every child, regardless of their challenges, deserves a loving and supportive home.
Within every challenge lies the potential for greatness, and that love knows no bounds when it comes to building a family.
What does a typical day look like for you as a foster carer?
Our day typically starts at 6:00am, getting the children up and ready on time for school.
One of the childreen has not attended school since October due to health reasons. I help with administrating medication. Then we generally do some homeschooling for about an hour and attend any medical appointments.
Daily chores include planning and preparing meals for the evening, whilst I have the time, taking into consideration any dietary restrictions.
The children return around 3.40pm. We have our tea at 5pm, and then I help with homework if required. We go out most days for a walk. The children have two hours of screen time, before showering and getting to bed at 9.30pm.
Each day can bring unique challenges and unexpected situations for us, due to having an unwell child. I have to be flexible, patient, and adaptable.
What are some challenges you may face as a new foster carer?
Foster children often come from challenging backgrounds, and it takes time for them to adjust to a new environment and build trust with their foster carers. It can be emotionally demanding for both the foster carer and the children during this adjustment period. I also feel balancing the needs of foster children with your own needs can be a challenge.
What has been your favourite memory as a foster carer?
My favourite memory has to be the first time a child who struggled with expressing or receiving affection asked for a hug. I felt a significant milestone in their emotional development. For me, it represented a turning point in their ability to connect with me and seek comfort and support within me.
What has your time been like with Olive Branch Fostering?
My experience with Olive Branch Fostering has been very positive. Olive Branch provides a range of supportive services to foster carers.
These can include training programs, workshops, and resources to enhance your skills and knowledge as a foster carer. They also offer support groups and mentoring programs, allowing you to connect with other carers who can share their experiences and offer guidance.
My supervising social worker is quite simply AMAZING! She is available to discuss any concerns, answer any questions or queries, and provides guidance when needed. She proactively checks in with me to ensure that I am supported. My supervising social worker allows me to offload my feelings, frustrations, and triumphs. She also acknowledges and recognises the positive impact I have on the lives of the children in my care and expresses appreciation for my dedication and commitment.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering fostering?
Be open-minded and flexible. Every child in foster care is unique, with different needs, backgrounds, and experiences. Approach fostering with an open mind and be prepared to adapt your care-giving approach to meet each child's specific requirements. Flexibility, patience, and a willingness to learn and grow are essential qualities for successful foster carers.
Remember that fostering is a rewarding yet challenging journey. It requires commitment, patience, and a genuine desire to make a positive difference in a child's life.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to spend time outdoors, going for walks, hikes, or picnics in parks. I also enjoy cooking and baking, as well as experimenting with new recipes. I fulfil my religious duties by completing my daily prayers, and I volunteer at one of the local food banks.
What does the fostering community mean to you?
For me, the fostering community means having a sense of belonging.
Fostering can sometimes feel isolating, especially when facing unique challenges. The fostering community offers a sense of belonging and understanding. Foster carers can connect with others who share similar experiences, creating a supportive network that provides empathy, validation, and a sense of camaraderie. The fostering community is a vital aspect of the foster care journey, offering support, resources, and a sense of connectedness.
Could you provide a fresh start and a safe space to call home for a vulnerable child or young person?
Get in touch to find out more.
20 July 2023
To make a start, click Enquire Now, fill in the form and we will be touch for an informal initial discussion in to fostering. There’s no obligation to go any further, and we’re happy to answer any questions you might have.Enquire Now
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Select a date and time using the calendar below and your fostering advisor will call you back for an initial discussion with you about fostering and answer any questions you may have.