What are your names and how long have you been fostering?
Mellie & Robin and we’ve been with Nexus Fostering since April 2014.
How many placements have you been involved with, and how many of these have involved caring for a child or young person with additional needs?
We have been involved in quite a few placements and they have each had different levels of needs.
J – type 1 diabetes, self-harming, and mental health issues
J – FASD. Learning difficulties
D – no additional needs. Ongoing placement
J – profound physical and mental health problems. Chromosome deletion. Ongoing respite
E – no addition needs. A short-term placement
A – additional needs unknown at the moment – possible FASD
Have Nexus Fostering provided you with, or supported you in, any specialist training?
Yes, I’ve had the following training with Nexus:
- Could you foster a child with disabilities?
- Mental health problems
- FASD training
- PEG tube feeding training
I have found these sessions really helpful, along with all the other ‘basic’ training.
What sort of challenges have you faced as specialist carers and how do you cope with them?
Throughout our placements there have been many, but this not unique to fostering children with disabilities. I’ve had to be on suicide watch with a teenager with mental health problems and she was returned to a secure facility as that was deemed the safest option for her following an incident.
We’ve had a teenager who was physically 16 with normal hormones, but with a mental age of approximately 6. She behaved in ways that could be perceived as inappropriate and managing her behaviour and her responses to certain situations was challenging.
With one young child with profound mental and physical disabilities his condition was potentially life threatening. I had training in how to manage and change his PEG tube feeding system. I had to problem solve any equipment failure and manage his health on an hourly basis often through the night. I also had to manage a life threatening medical emergency with him and stayed overnight in hospital, even assisting the medical team in reinserting the tube by comforting and supporting him as it could only be done with him awake.
What do you find most rewarding about fostering, but fostering young people with additional needs in particular?
Seeing the support and care make a difference to the child. Being part of their story, and knowing that even when they are being challenging it is because they feel safe enough with you to do so.
What is your fondest memory from one of your placements?
Having a teenager who was labelled ‘difficult’ and ‘challenging’ bring me a cake and cup of tea he’d made when I was ill in bed.
What is the main message you would like to get across to someone who is learning about fostering for the first time?
You don’t have to be the perfect parent to foster, or even a parent at all. Life experience, a calm approach, being willing to learn, and having a spare room are really all you need.
Mellie and Robin are two of our carers in London who care for children will a range of needs. If you could provide a stable loving home to a child, why not call us on 0800 389 0143 to find out more.