There may be restrictions in place which limit what we can and can’t do right now, but the need to provide a child with a loving home has never been greater.
During the coronavirus pandemic the number of children and teenagers in need of foster care is increasing.
In a bid to encourage more people to come forward; to those who have considered it for some time; and to those new to fostering – two local carers have shared advice from their experiences of foster family life during lockdown, with the two agreeing that keeping a routine in place is key.
Laura and her husband John have been foster carers for the past six years, and are currently looking after three girls.
“Although they have their moments, they are very manageable and laid back,” said Laura.
“The girls still get up during the week as they did for school. Get washed, dressed and have breakfast before doing their school work.
“After lunch they’ll then do an activity such as arts and crafts for an hour before going on a bike ride. Before you know it it’s teatime and then their time is their own before bed, as it normally would be.”
Laura added: “John and I feel that the routine in place is the corner stone that is assisting the girls in making the situation manageable for themselves and helps the us still feel in control.”
Meanwhile, Pauline has been a registered foster carer for the last 14 years and has looked after a total of 25 children and young people during this time.
Pauline said: “When a child has a routine, they feel safe and secure.
“The family eat dinner together, and spend most of the days doing different activities such as family game time – playing board games such as Monopoly.
“It is important for children to understand the reasons why we are in this position (of not going out) – especially the older children as they are used to being able to go out with their friends and feel like they are missing out, but they’re not – and aren’t the only ones in this situation.
“It is also important to understand that all children act and deal with things in different ways, so you have to pick your battles. Some may just get on with things and keep them entertained, others may be more challenging and not have understanding of why we have to do this – but you have to support and talk to them about how they feel.”
On hearing Laura and Pauline’s experiences, St Helens Council’s Cabinet Member for Protecting Young People, Councillor Nova Charlton, said:
“We value the amazing work all our foster carers carry out all year round – but to hear Laura and Pauline’s encounters of life as foster carers during a pandemic is inspiring, and it’s reassuring that they’re keeping children and young people, most in need of love and attention, safe and calm at such a time.
“We have some very vulnerable children here in St Helens who require our support, and a good home provided by a caring foster family will go a long way in ensuring that a child or young person achieves their potential.
“If you think you can help by fostering a child or young person, I would urge you to contact our fostering team who will support you every step of the way.”
To help address the current demand while adhering to government guidelines, St Helens Council have moved its fostering recruitment process online.
Call the fostering team on 01744 671199 or visit fostering.sthelens.gov.uk for more information.