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Week in the Life of a Foster Carer: Shqiponja

Thursday 16 May 2024

Shqiponja has been a foster carer with Waltham Forest for over five years. She shares an example week of her life as a foster carer.

Monday: Celebrating a birthday

We celebrate each child’s birthday and follow traditions. We always have a birthday cake, lots of food and gather at the table together for dinner. My (birth) daughters and son-in law always join us to celebrate our foster children’s birthdays too, they are all part of our family. We give presents and money for them to buy themselves something. We reflect on the past and talk about goals for the coming year.

We always take lots of pictures and upload them with captions on a secure app called ‘CaringLife’, which is a bit like Instagram to use. The app gives children and young people in care digital access to all their life memories and documents in a very private and secure way.  

Tuesday: Meeting my Supervising Social Worker (SSW)

I meet with my dedicated SSW once every month. She is like a member of our family. We meet for two hours face to face in my home and discuss everything including any challenges that may have occurred. She always listens and gives me space to talk through things. Her support has been great, I know that I am not alone in caring for my foster children. She raises things up to her managers if she needs to.

My foster children have their own Social Workers. My SSW is my support, she holds me accountable to carry out my role well but also helps me. She makes sure I am looking after myself too so that I am able to care for my young people.

Wednesday: Practising music

Two of my foster children have autism and music really helps them to relax their minds. I find that it helps them to stay calm, it’s their time to reflect and sit down and do something productive for themselves. We have an area at home that we call the ‘relaxing area,’ where they can play the guitar. I used to have to encourage them to practice at home, now they do so every day. My husband also goes to the relaxing area and plays the guitar with them. My older foster son has piano lessons at school. They are very creative children.

Thursday: Going for a coffee with a fellow foster carer

I meet other foster carers weekly for a coffee, sometimes in a group, sometimes one-to one. I find that it is important to talk about our experiences and support each other. We are able to talk freely and openly, and we learn from one another. Fostering is not always easy; it can be difficult at times, but it is always rewarding.

Friday: Attending a peer support group session

The Waltham Forest Fostering Service organises peer support groups. They provide a space, or the meetings are held online. These are beneficial to me as I’m able to learn, and give and receive support from other foster carers. Sometimes we’ll have external guests speak to us or give us training.

Saturday: Baking a cake

We made a cake for two of my foster son’s birth mum today. She has been unwell and recently left hospital.  We really enjoyed making it and decorating it together. We took her flowers and a card with the cake. She (mum) was so surprised and happy. Not all children in foster care can see their birth parents but my sons are able to quite often with supervision.

Cooking helps foster children to develop their life skills and become more independent. My older son is now able to cook, tidy his bedroom and save his money. He is ready to move on when the time comes.

Sunday: A walk-in nature/spending time outdoors

I often go for a walk-in nature with my foster children, especially my younger one. When he first came to live with us, he really missed his birth parents, and our walks were a chance for him to speak about his family. Whilst he is much more settled now, we have continued this tradition as it refreshes the mind. Now, he sometimes says to me ‘let’s go for a walk and get some fresh air’ as he knows how beneficial it can be.

Final thoughts

I enjoy fostering, sometimes I look back and can’t believe how far I have come. My aim was to help children and fostering is a dream come true. As a foster carer I ‘change hats’ all the time. It is demanding but it makes me happy. You can’t take things too personally when young people do not behave how you would wish them to. We discuss issues and share expectations with our young people, we also give them time and space to reflect. I look forward to the positives and I am proud of all my foster children.


Do you think could you be a foster carer like Shqiponja, and have an amazing impact on the lives of children in Waltham Forest? Complete our short enquiry form or call 020 8496 3437 to find out how our fostering team can support you. 

How Dana, LGBTQ+ foster carer took her first step into fostering

Wednesday 6 March 2024 

March 4 to March 11 is LGBTQ+ Adoption and Fostering Week, a campaign organised by New Family Social to encourage more LGBTQ+ people to adopt or foster. This is part one of a two-part article looking at Dana's* journey to becoming a foster carer.

Dana always wanted children and her mum thought she would be a great parent. Fast forward to a few years later and she has been a foster carer for a teenager for several years, making a huge impact on the child's life. 

Read more here

Plea for more people to become carers at Leyton Orient

Tuesday 20 February 2024 

On Saturday 3 February, we visited Leyton Orient with Councillor Kizzy Gardiner,  Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, David, Foster Carer and Tye, young care leaver. Watch the short video courtesy of Leyton Orient about our visit.

The stadium was close to capacity with 8,488 fans and we were honoured to be invited onto the pitch at half time to speak about fostering.

If you own or work for a local business and would like to become a Fostering Friendly Employer like Leyton Orient Football Club and Leyton Orient Trust, get in touch. If you would like to become a foster care please complete our short form.

 

 

Foster Dads, Fathers Day

Friday 17 June 2022

This Father's Day, we are celebrating two of our many wonderful Foster Dads. 

Vincent (right) who has been a foster dad for nearly two years, shared;

"We see fostering as being given this amazing opportunity to help a child in a time of need and giving them a loving family to be part of."

Steve has been a foster carer for over 20 years and has fostered children of all age groups shared;

"I enjoy fostering, some of the children we have cared for have stayed with us long term. I enjoy playing with children, going out, running and and cycling with them, it makes me feel young. I enjoy when young people we have cared for visit us as adults. One young man we had cared for as a child brought his wife and new born twins to stay with us once. It was a really special time and so enjoyable. It was great to see him flourishing and doing well in his home life and business."

We hold regular men's support groups for our foster dads for peer support. If you are interested in joining us please complete a short enquiry form.

 

 

Award Winners

Wednesday 1 December 2021

We are delighted to announce that we have won the Children and Young People Now, Public Sector Children's Team Award for our work on a campaign to boost foster carer numbers at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The criteria for the award was, the public sector team that has made the greatest impact to improving the life chances of children, young people or families.

*Anticipating an increase in the number of children entering care and the number of looked-after children who would need new homes, the team launched a Covid-response recruitment campaign. Over the course of the pandemic, the team found 88 children homes with in-house carers and recruited six times as many new carers over the year before.

Girl on swing

The Corporate Parenting Team at Waltham Forest has been proactively confronting the challenges around foster carer recruitment by utilising innovative digital approaches to attract and train new carers.

Judge, Kadra Abdinassir, Associate Director for Children and Young People, Centre for Mental Health

As headsets were no longer safe to use, we adapted our virtual reality foster carer training, commissioning a replacement 2D programme.

We are also expanding our Mockingbird model, where one foster home acts as a hub offering planned and emergency sleepovers and short break advice, training and support to six to 10 satellite households.

We still need many, many more carers to support our local vulnerable young people, as the numbers of young people in care continue to grow. Please get in touch with our award winning team to find out more.

*Source CYPN website.