‘I think there’s a misconception that disabled people are ill. In some people’s minds they’re the recipient of the care, rather than the giver of care- but being disabled and a foster carer isn’t unusual anymore’.
Katie is a wheelchair user who fosters a teenage boy.
Katie was a youth worker before becoming a foster carer. As she explains “I’ve worked in the community and a few of my friends were in foster care and this really motivated me. It became a logical conclusion for me to foster, as I don’t wish to have my own biological children due to my impairment – fostering has always been on my radar”.
The Fostering Application Process
“I found this great, Fostering People were really supportive, I went with them because they have a really good relationship with their carers and I knew that they would be up-to-date with all the currently thinking. Things move on quickly, only a decade ago people with a disability like mine were not considered as foster carers, I’m grateful that this out dated thinking has moved on and fostering has been possible for me.
When undertaking a fostering assessment, you do need to be open and honest. Every little detail is discussed about your life. There is a medical, and they do assess everyone’s general health. There are going to be questions that normally wouldn’t get asked in your day life, like ‘How do you get out of and ‘How do you have a shower?’ and the like. Disabled people themselves to pass on those valuable problem solving skills that they’ve got, and there’s only one way to do that, and that’s to help others.
Fostering a teenage boy
We spend so much time together that we’ve got that time to discuss these things and it just helps him grow and learn – and me as well. It’s just been really good and he’s just been nothing but positive and a joy to be around.
Challenges of fostering
Fostering can be challenging. You need to use your support network and take that switch off time to allow you to get back to your old self. The difficulties are more about those common things, like isolation, when you can go a full day without meeting someone that really gets what you’re talking about. When you’re a single carer, there’s only you to put that brave face on things, so that is quite tough. Luckily I’ve got a lot of people around me that are absolutely amazing, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without them.
Rewards of fostering
When we’re one on one and just bonding. Teenagers can be very here, there and everywhere. They’ve got a lot of emotions and things to deal with. Just being able to introduce this new person into your life, and to give them experiences like going on holiday and going on trips and doing things together has been really nice. It’s not something that’s easily understood by people who haven’t done it, but you know, for that person to wake up in the morning and know that they’re safe and that they’ve got a fun, busy day with you, is the most rewarding part for me.
Qualities needed in a foster carer
You need a lot of energy and an ability to share the same space as a young person and to really get on-board with their thoughts and feelings. You’ve got to be a good listener and a good empathizer. You’ve really got to be a parent to them.
I’m really excited and proud to say that I’ve done it. The rewards are abundant, every day.