This year’s theme for Foster Care Fortnight is #FosteringCommunities which is taking place from 15th-28th May.
We are committed to being a ‘Fostering Friendly Employer’ through supporting our employees who are prospective or existing foster carers. Last year we made the step towards becoming a Fostering Friendly employer to help address the national challenges around fostering, and to try and encourage more working people to become foster carers. Currently there are around 70,000 young people waiting to be placed in a safe & secure home.
The Government has called on employers to become “fostering friendly”. Part of the national push to encourage more people to become foster carers, has been to “bust the myth” that you are not allowed to work if you become a foster carer. Stateside Foods wishes to support those employees who are already foster carers and to encourage those who may be considering foster care to take that step as by doing so, they will be providing positive working role models and widening the pool of available foster carers. In this way, more children in care can be matched with the very best foster carer for them. We recognise that having the support of the organisation, may make the vital difference in the decision of an employee to become a foster carer. Stateside Foods will encourage partners and other organisations to adopt this approach.
Paula Nelson (from our Quality department) shares her experience of becoming a Foster Carer…
Why and when we started Fostering – The benefits and challenges
“There are so many children and parents out there who are less fortunate than most of us sometimes they just need a little bit of help and support.
My partner and I started the fostering process over 11 years ago, it took nearly 6 months to complete the training and assessment process to get approved. You have lots of meetings with social workers and other professionals which is daunting at the beginning. It doesn’t seem it at the time but it gets much easier. We then had to appear in front of a panel of 15 to get approved as foster carers. I’ve meet some fantastic people, who are now “Our Fostering Family” and we are there to support each other and share experiences.
I worked continental nights in the warehouse when I first applied, thinking I would have to leave Stateside. Stateside Foods have been very accommodating and once approved as a foster carer, I changed shifts and then departments, moving onto a day shift so I could carry on working and fostering.
Once approved, I was very anxious and nervous that I would be responsible for any child that came into our care. Our first placement was 2 boys aged 3 and 6- it was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Trying to adjust to a routine that worked for all of us, we had some really hard days and then some days we will treasure forever.
The boys stayed with us for 18 months before going back to live with their mom and dad. We still have contact with the boys- mainly the older boy, as he regularly calls in for a brew when he is passing.
In the last 10 ½ years we have helped over 10+ children go back home to family or go on to find a their forever home. We also fostered a 4 year old girl, who stayed with us as a family for 6 years before moving on.
Additionally, we provide respite for other Foster carers and receive support in return, which has resulted in us building some strong friendships.
Fostering is not easy. It comes with many challenges, not only from the child, but from getting to know their parents and social workers. For us the positives far out way the negatives. Just knowing you have made a difference, and given a child a better start in life.
The most rewarding aspect, is when you remain in a child’s life after they move on. This is what makes being a foster carer so worthwhile.
We had a baby boy from birth until 8 months old, who was then reunited back living with his mum. We have helped support his mum during the transition and as a result have built a friendship. She continues to stay in touch and sends pictures and updates, and he has regular sleep overs.
I’ve found that Stateside have always been supportive and understanding of my fostering roll, and with Stateside Foods now being a Fostering Friendly employer- this makes it easier to take time to complete mandatory training and attend meetings to allow us to continue to accept new children into our family.”
Foster carers need to come from a variety of backgrounds and have different life experiences, skills and qualities which is why Stateside Foods are keen to support our employees who may be considering becoming a foster carer or those who have already become apart of the fostering network.