Become a foster carer in Hackney to help children achieve their potential
- Credit: Archant
Former teacher Steve shares his experiences as a foster carer for teenagers, from dealing with some of their more challenging behaviour, to the rewards of seeing a child develop into a happy and healthy adult.
As the eldest of a large sibling group, from an early age Steve had taken on a fatherly role and always wanted to help others.
Paired with a background in teaching and working with young people, when he found his new calling away from the school, he still wanted a way to work with young people and help them succeed in life - and fostering was his answer.
So in August 2016, Steve applied to Hackney Fostering Service and, despite having a busy schedule at the time, his assessment was completed and he was approved as a foster carer.
Currently, the majority of children coming into care across London are in their teens. Because of his willingness to care for this age group, Steve didn't have to wait long for his first placement.
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Fostering teenagers has not been without challenge, but when asked about this, Steve says: "The biggest challenge has been reporting a child missing. I think the 'missing' episode is the most stressful part of fostering - wondering if the child is okay and all that kind of stuff.
"But you develop routines of how to deal with it; you follow the procedures set in place and as you get to know the child well you get to know their friends and network. You can then send text messages to find out where they are."
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Steve reflects on the experiences he has had with a couple of teens he fostered: "One was very studious and fully sorted, while the other was still finding their pathway. It's about how you cater to both.
"The good thing about fostering is it's an opportunity to open the mind of an individual. You see them learn and start to reflect on life, and you are able to give them access to opportunities that they wouldn't have had.
"I believe that life has been very good to me in many ways and if I can pass this on to help a child that is a very good thing. As somebody who thoroughly enjoys travelling, showing them a world outside of east London and seeing them respond to those experiences, recognising the possibilities for their own life, I think is a great success."
Foster carers consistently reiterate the same message of how rewarding it is to foster. Not just opening your home to a child, but seeing them grow and the positive impact they are able to have on each child. So what advice would Steve give to anyone thinking about fostering?
"The same advice I'd give about teaching: you have to love and enjoy being around children - that's absolutely important.
"I think you have to have a great level of patience and see things in a long term view. You need to have a capacity for understanding a child's background: their story, the trauma or difficulty they have gone through and how all that will affect them. Remember that each child will be totally different and success will be defined in many ways."
If you are interested in becoming a foster carer or supported lodgings host, call 0800 0730 418, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit hackney.gov.uk/fostering.