10 Questions with FFI Carers, Steven and Gareth.

20231118 184753 1
10 Questions with FFI Carers, Steven and Gareth. 2

Tell us about yourselves?

We are Steven and Gar, we live in Tallaght. We are both in our early 40s and are fostering with FFI since 2020.

When & why did you decide to foster?

We began exploring the idea of fostering about 6 years ago. We decided to look into fostering for a number of reasons. Mainly because we love kids and felt that we could provide a safe and nurturing environment for a child. We had the physical space and we were at a stage in our lives that we felt being a part of a fostering journey with a child who needed a family short or long term would only enrich our lives even more. 

Once we gathered the information from websites, YouTube videos, meetings with Tusla and then FFI, we began putting things in place before taking the next step to actually apply. We got our full drivers licences, we carried out home improvements, I spoke with my employer about reducing my weekly hours. We talked to family members about our hopes to foster as these would be the people we would look too for support when / if needed. We then contacted FFI and from there began our assessment. This took roughly 10 months to complete. 

How did you find the assessment process?

The assessment explored all aspects of our lives and our earliest experiences/memories of being a child ourselves. It’s important to say that all of our experiences good and bad supported the assessment. It wasn’t that they are looking for foster carers who had the perfect life but for people that can use their lived experiences to support and understand a child in cares needs. The assessment was a very non-judgemental process and if anything, it felt therapeutic. 

What helped you make that decision?

Once the assessment was complete, we did our first piece of training with FFI and we got the opportunity to meet another foster family and hear their experiences of fostering children. The training gave us an insight into the needs of the children in care and also helped us understand the world through the eyes of a child in care. We discussed any worries with the facilitators around fear of false allegations and thankfully any concerns we had where elevated as they provided us with the knowledge of how to keep ourselves safe through record keeping, and communication with our ‘link social worker’ etc. We also felt reassured that we had their support throughout the journey. Meeting other potential foster carers at the training was great too and we began feeling part of the FFI family.

How did you feel when you got the call to tell you that you were approved?

Getting the call to say that we were approved felt amazing. A part of you doubts that you can be a foster carer because of the enormity of having a child placed in your care, but having FFI approve us and hearing their feedback gave us the confidence and self-belief and helped us keep going.

What was it like receiving your first referrals?

Receiving referrals was a very emotional process. Reading a child’s story on paper and having to decide whether or not you could say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to caring for the child was very difficult. I thought to myself, how can i say ‘no’ to children who had needs I wasn’t familiar with or children who had specific needs that required more support than most. The thought of ‘rejecting’ a child who already has experienced so much trauma was deeply upsetting. However, our link social worker was an amazing support. She explained how there is no judgement placed on saying ‘no’ to a referral. That it was the right thing to do, explaining to us that often carers might not say no and 2 months into the placement it breaks down. Our Social worker advised us to take our time with accepting a referral. We received referrals for children we felt we could care for and eventually a little girl was placed in our care.

How busy is your role as a foster carer?

The pace of life changed for us, but not necessarily faster, or busier. Becoming part time in my employment allowed for me to be more available during the day to give time to the needs of the child in our care. These where things like, being there for her in the morning for getting up & ready and out the door for school, being home for homework and chats about how the day went, preparing and cooking for mealtimes. Also, there is a need to be available for visits from the child’s social worker, our own social worker, foster care training, and getting to the career support groups. As the child in our care had some specific needs, there was also a need to facilitate those appointments. These where all the things that now filled the hours of 9 to 5 instead of my previous full-time employment. The evenings and weekends involved family time, after school activities, and weekly access to the child’s birth family and of course we made time for ourselves too.

What would you say to someone who was considering fostering?

Go for it! Get in touch with FFI. Check out FFIs YouTube page and listen to the stories from other foster families. Get your whole family on board by involving them as much as possible in your fostering journey. They will be a great support if times are tough or if you need a break and they will love getting to be the extended fostering family. I would also say, you don’t need to be perfect, or a ‘special person’ to foster. Foster carers are every day, normal people, doing the best they can, just like you. 

What is the best part of fostering / best memory fostering?

Seeing the child in our care flourish is the best part of fostering. The one thing that really stays with me is the fact our foster child could barely read when she first came to us at 9 years old, now she reads brilliantly and very close to her peers. Seeing her delight when she can read the menu in a restaurant or understand her homework in a whole different way. That to me is the best. 

What challenges do you think come along with fostering?

The Family dynamics can take a while to adjust to the change, especially when birth children are part of the fostering journey. Its not easy for them to suddenly share their parents or their home. 

What support do you get from FFI?

We both cannot recommend FFI enough. The support is amazing. Training is ongoing and on offer all the time. You receive a link social worker which is available to you daily. Your link social worker will also visit you once a month to check in and offer you a listening ear and support. Outside of typical working hours a social worker is available 24/7 to support you if needed. There’s a therapist available to provide you with support if you have been struggling with any aspect of the fostering journey. There is a carer group that meet once a month and you get to meet other carers and share your experiences. There are family events online and in-person that you can attend. There’s an education support person that helps with any school or learning challenges. We receive lovely cards from FFI for our birthdays and at Christmas and other occasions we receive gratitude gifts showing their appreciation for us as careers. We just feel so supported, we couldn’t ask for any more. 

Do you think you could make a difference in the life of a child in care like Steven and Gareth? – If so, why not contact us today and start your fostering journey.

Make an enquiry

Whether you wish to ask for additional information or whether you wish to start your journey to become a foster carer our team is happy to help.

Information provided will only be used for the sole purpose of contacting you in relation to fostering. For more details about how we use your data, please see our privacy notice here
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Start your journey

Fill in your email address below to get your journey with FFI started.

Information provided will only be used for the sole purpose of contacting you in relation to fostering. For more details about how we use your data, please see our privacy notice here
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.