My name is Tabatha and I have been a foster carer for 6 years.
The young people I have been privileged to meet have often been hugely affected by their life experiences and just want to feel safe. It is fascinating to see what they develop into when you assist them to find their voice! The results may not always be what you like, as they normally need to work through a lot of anger.
Since working for the Compass Group, I have provided a long term home for two sets of siblings, have offered respite for various young people and have supported two young people who were not in main stream schooling to return.
We are proud to be foster carers!
Monday 6th July
It’s been a while since I last blogged and this is in part due to being pushed to my limit with the 17 year old and also issues at school with G.
The concerns which all foster carers and potential foster carers dread have occurred recently: an allegation being made against us. What you realise very early on is that you are opening your home and yourself up to criticism and the scope to make allegations. On this occasion we were able to contact the on-call duty worker from Compass who was amazing! She could hear the young person and stayed on the phone to talk us through the process of entering the room at night, we had no choice as our young person had informed us she had self-harmed and would not let us in to ascertain the extent of her injuries.
For anyone who is not really aware of traumatised children, entering their bedroom at night can be a huge trigger/flash point. This has been the case for the 5 long term children we have fostered and the 5 short term/respite placements. It’s clear to us that these young people have memories which manifest themselves at night and it takes a long time for them to feel totally safe.
Interestingly, the young person immediately called the Emergency Duty Team [EDT] for her Local Authority and reported us; she made allegations about our conduct which were not true. She said things in anger which were potentially harmful to or position as foster carers. Luckily for us our duty worker from Compass also called the EDT at the same time, so there was a discussion from the young person and a social worker about our actions. It was a good piece of joined up working which ensured that nothing got twisted or confused.
I feel supported by Compass and the worker also called us again the following morning as she knew we were worried about the incident escalating. It was good to be able to ask advice and then carry it out with a social worker on the end of the phone. It was stressful to see the young person in so much distress but we were able to re assure her that coming into the room was a Health and Safety measure to make sure she was OK! I would recommend that if you are about to do something which is likely to trigger trauma its worth communicating with your supervising social worker or the duty worker if you feel unsure and they will guide you, however gut feeling is a good indicator. I would stress you need to know your own triggers and capacity for dealing with trauma before you stir up these emotions as it requires all of your emotional intelligence not to see the fall out and contain the behavioural response as a personal attack. They are expressing feelings and emotions they could not present towards their aggressors, repressed feelings when they emerge are overwhelming for them and you!
Surprisingly, the young person has little recollection of the negative things she was saying that night about me and my partner, but she recalls that when she text me to say she had self-harmed I came to her assistance. Although entering into a young person’s trauma and witnessing them opening up their pain to you is an emotionally draining act. It’s something they are living with permanently. Adolescence is a chance to re parent whilst the brain goes through a large developmental change and new cognitive processes can be achieved with consistent parenting. I know that we play a massive part in what type of adults emerge from the difficulties of their teens. I never cease to be amazed by the levels of resilience or coping mechanisms young people develop to get through the day!! Being a foster carer is rarely dull, it is hugely beneficial but emotionally draining and totally worth it.