If you regularly read our blogs, you may have noticed a theme of nurturing and change that runs through them. There’s a reason for that; it’s because we genuinely believe that the right fostering placement can completely change the life of a child or young person.
Foster care can get a pretty bad rap from the media. Some of you may remember the storyline in EastEnders (one of the UK’s most popular soaps) where a young person was mistreated by her carers. Although this story was six years ago, storylines like this stick. Fortunately, they couldn’t be further from the truth.
Foster carers are phenomenal (we know, we’re a fostering agency, so we’re going to say that, but they really are). They are people who open their homes to the most vulnerable and damaged children in our society and provide them with the safety and nurturing they need to grow. To be honest, it’s one of the most selfless things you can do, to open your home to a stranger, care for them, welcome them into your family, and give them the start in life that they deserve. And for every negative portrayal of foster care in the media, there are moments in meetings around the country when the true benefits of a fantastic fostering placement are seen and documented.
Recently, Affinity Fostering received just such feedback about a child that we’d placed with one of our carers. When children and young people are placed in our care, they arrive with a variety of different problems and issues. Some may have low self-esteem, some may have experienced complex relationships at home, they may feel unsafe and unsure of how to behave and react. This means that their foster carer has to help them to adapt, showing them that they can have positive experiences in their lives. To put it bluntly, a good fostering placement will positively impact every section of a child’s life.
And this is where we come to the recent feedback. During a support meeting, the teacher of a child in Affinity’s care expressed that she had noticed a real change for the better in the child, that they were on an upward trajectory and were calmer and more focused. This was put down to the positive experiences that the child was having in their foster home. But, even more heart-warming is this quote “Child X looks younger, happier and doesn’t look worried anymore…they have their sparkle back and look lighter”. Imagine giving a child back the experience of childhood to enable them to rediscover their sparkle; amazing.
At the end of the report, one final paragraph made what was already something positive complete. The child’s teacher explained that now they make a point of saying they are going HOME to get changed before after-school clubs instead of saying that they were going to their “foster carer’s house”. For this particular child, this was a massive step as they had never referred to previous placements as home.
Take a moment to consider what you think of when you think of home. For most of us, it’s a safe place, the space where all our belongings are, where our loved ones are, and where we can relax. For this child, home is now a place where they don’t have to worry anymore.
This report isn’t the end of the story; there will still be challenges, and as the young person grows, they will need guidance and support to help them cope with new-found freedoms and experiences, but that is something that the Affinity Family are well equipped to help with. That’s a part of the fostering journey, supporting the children and young people in our care as they face the changes and challenges of reaching Affinity and Beyond.
If you’d like to help a child or young person get their sparkle back or are interested in helping someone find their home, we’d love to hear from you.