How long have you been foster carers, and how long have you been with Nexus Fostering?
We applied to become foster carers for the first time in 2015 and were accepted by the panel at Nexus Fostering in September 2016.
How many children/ young people have you fostered?
We have fostered, to date, seven children ranging in ages from 4yrs to 17yrs old. Of these children five of them were from two sibling groups.
One group of three children ranging in ages from 9yrs to 14yrs old. One group of two siblings from 4yrs to 10yrs old.
What are the main challenges of fostering a sibling group?
I feel the main challenges are being able to give them the individual attention needed at the beginning of their journey with us, which will make them feel safe and wanted as part of the family.
Meeting the children’s emotional and physical needs while aiming to find a basis for the continuum of care needed for each child can also be a challenge.
Often the older child finds it difficult to relinquish the responsibility for the younger children. There is often jealousy between siblings which can lead to challenging behaviour. Often a younger child will copy the older sibling’s behaviour whether this is in a good way or not.
What do you think the benefits are for siblings to be fostered together?
I feel that siblings who are fostered together can be less anxious and give each other support. If they are placed together, they are not constantly worrying about each other or where and when they may see one another again.
What is your fondest memory from one of your placements, or a particular success story you would like to share?
The group of three siblings that we looked after; the oldest at fourteen was very withdrawn and initially would not get herself involved with anything that was going on in the family or even leave the house.
We were very concerned with regards to her mental health. This young lady even withdrew from her younger siblings. Over a long period of time I eventually got her to join us in the garden and to come for a walk even though she did walk well in front of the rest of us. We eventually got her to take a walk to the local park by herself where she would sit and read her book for a little while. I encouraged her to meet two local girls who were siblings that were also being fostered. This grew into a great friendship and they all used to meet up at the park or be invited to each other’s houses.
As this friendship grew this young lady gained confidence in herself her self-esteem and mental health improved. She became chatty and outgoing, to the point that she was never in unless for meals, going to bed or doing her homework. All of the children would often ask for a picnic and both foster carers and the sibling groups would go to the park and share a picnic.
I felt sure I could actually see that a weight had been lifted off this young ladies’ shoulders as she wasn’t being judged – she was being accepted for who she was. She had no responsibility for her siblings so she could relax and just be a normal teenager. This young lady still telephones me, she will send a text or sometimes write me a letter to let me know how she is getting on which is lovely.
What tips would you give to someone expecting their first sibling placement?
Treat them all as the individuals they are.
Aim to spend as much time one on one as you possibly can.
Try to establish if there are any development problems such as a difference between their chronological and developmental age, as this can assist in establishing the basis for their care and the continuum of care plan.
Ask for help if needed from your SSW – it is always better to ask for help than struggle with a problem.
Make sure everyone understands the house rules and boundaries and that negative behaviour will not be tolerated and has consequences. It is important that you follow through with the consequences for negative behaviour. Always make time to give each child the chance to discuss their day and any problems.
If you could describe fostering siblings in 3 words, what would they be?
Challenging, exhausting, and rewarding.
Why did you choose to foster with Nexus Fostering and how have they supported you in your fostering journey?
We chose Nexus Fostering as they had a good OFSTED report. They have supported us with ongoing education. We also have an allocated SSW who supports us and you can also telephone for advice when needed.