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From Teaching to Foster Care: Fostering Insights From Laura

Foster Carer Laura (Web)

Every year thousands of new foster carers are needed to care for the increasing number of vulnerable children coming into care in the UK. We pay our foster carers a generous fostering allowance that helps to support the foster child and acts as a reward for the carer.

To share more insights into life as a foster carer, we've been speaking to Laura. Laura has been fostering with Olive Branch since 2019 when she decided on a life-changing career change from teacher to foster carer…


Fostering stories

Date published

22 May 2023

Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m Laura, I’m 28, and I have been fostering with my partner Tom for three years. We first got approved in November 2019, when we had three little girls stay with us for three days, as an emergency fostering placement. Our first long-term placement happened in February 2020, when we took on three young siblings, who are Czech Republic Nationals. They’ve been with us ever since.

What made you become a foster carer?

I’ve loved working with children ever since I was in school. I did work experience in a nursery when I was 15, then I studied childcare at college before doing early years teaching at university.

I was a reception class teacher for a little while. However, I wasn’t keen on all the assessments and admin work involved, so I started looking into other avenues I could work with children. Tom and I were renovating our first house at the time and were considering childminding. Our next-door neighbour was a foster carer and suggested we find out more.

I was 23 years old at the time and wasn’t too sure, but then we decided to go for it. We went through the application process with the team at Olive Branch, got accepted at Panel, and the rest is history.

How many children do you foster?

We foster two boys and a girl, currently ages four, nine and ten. We were thrown in at the deep end at first, because lockdown hit right after we started fostering. The whole lockdown experience did make us bond very quickly, as we were able to go on a lot of walks and picnics together, as well as helping the children with their schooling. We even had a lockdown birthday to celebrate for the middle boy.

Can you tell us about some of the unique skills you need to become a foster carer?

Patience is a very important skill. When the children first came to us, they had no boundaries or routines. There was a lot of going back to basics, like teaching the children how to brush their teeth properly and giving them a set bedtime. You also have to be understanding, as many foster children have been through a lot, and it won’t always be plain sailing at the beginning. You learn together. It’s important to be caring and nurturing, as the children haven’t always experienced that in their lives. For example, they might not have ever had a bedtime story read to them. Foster carers must be resilient, as the children can push you away at times and lash out. Sometimes they struggle with guilt about their birth parents, and they can struggle to process their emotions.

What does a typical day look like for you as a foster carer?

Weekdays are very full on, as we’re getting everyone ready for school and out the door. There are a lot of meetings with the school, as well as medical appointments and social worker visits. We’re currently renovating our house again, which makes things a bit busier! We also need to complete paperwork and daily logs about the children. When we pick the kids up from school, they often have activities like choir, dancing, acting, football, and cross country. After that, it’s spellings, homework, and reading, before their bedtime routines and showers. During the weekend, we like to spend time together as a family, going on walks, playing in the park, and having boardgame nights and film nights.

What are some challenges you may face as a new foster carer?

I struggled with my confidence at the beginning, but I realised it was important to advocate for the children. For example, during lockdown, I had to push for the children to go back to school due to their extra requirements. From the minute they came, we had to get used to everything, but it’s important to be confident enough to stand up. There’s a lot of adjusting.

What has been your favourite memory as a foster carer?

It was very memorable taking them on their first holiday. The five of us went to Greece last summer.

What has your time been like with Olive Branch Fostering?

The team at Olive Branch Fostering have always given us so much support. There are always people that I can go to for help, from our Social Worker and Children Engagement Officer to Paisley, who has been our Fostering Advisor from the beginning. Olive Branch put us at ease, and we have involvement with social workers every week.

Olive Branch also host a lot of fun family days, activities and further training. They make us feel like part of their family, with little touches like sending flowers when we passed Panel and sending cupcakes for Eid or gifts for Christmas.

Do you have any advice for anyone considering fostering?

Go for it!

Fostering can be daunting, and there will be challenges, but it’s the most rewarding thing we’ve ever done.

It’s an honour to change the children’s lives for the better and to become a family.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

We love going for walks and picnics as a family. We also like mountain walking, as well as having games and film nights. When I have time to myself, I enjoy working out and going to gym classes.

What does the fostering community mean to you?

To me, the fostering community is a family. We all understand each other and have been in the same situation. There’s always someone I can speak to and get advice from. Olive Branch are very welcoming, and everyone is so lovely.

Taking on three children long term is a massive commitment, but it’s comforting to know that such a good community is behind us. Having the agency with us every step of the way makes things feel less daunting. We know we can call on Olive Branch for anything we need.

Could you open your heart and home to a child who needs a fresh start and a safe space to call home?

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.

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