“Love is Love”: Melanie and Mel’s Foster Journey
Melanie and Mel took their first steps towards becoming foster carers last year, and have not looked back since. With high-quality training, an efficient approval process and great support, they have taken on their first placement. We recently spoke to Melanie and Mel about their experiences since deciding to become foster carers. Here is what they had to say…
An Idea, Long in the Pipeline
We first talked about fostering eight or nine years ago when we initially got together. A few years after the birth of our daughter Brooke in Feb 2011, we both felt that our biological family was complete but still had room in our lives for another child. We decided to wait until Brooke was of an age that she could have an input into our decision making.
In 2017, we did some online research into fostering in Northern Ireland, finding out what exactly respite, short-term and long-term fostering meant, what challenges we could expect as well as training and support offered.
We contacted all agencies in Northern Ireland as well as our local trust for information and to arrange home visits. From the beginning Kindercare stood out, they were informative and prompt in their replies. We received a home visit from Stephanie and after one further email had all our questions and queries answered and excitedly decided to proceed with Kindercare. We were really impressed with the training and ongoing support offered by Kindercare and this was one of the determining factors of why we chose to foster with them. We would definitely recommend contacting as many agencies as possible – that way you will get a feel for which agency is right for you.
After Choosing Kindercare NI
At this point, we had some paperwork to complete. Medical disclosures, police checks as well as personal and employer references. We were booked onto Skills to Foster training and found this really beneficial as the training included an actual foster carer and a social worker who had been through the care system herself, so we really got an insight into the realities of fostering. I would say to anybody considering fostering, do not let your physical or mental health stop you from applying. We thought it might have been a barrier for us after a number of close family bereavements, but it wasn’t and we are now fully fledged foster carers with a lovely placement.
We were assigned an assessor with whom we built up an excellent rapport. She called to the house weekly for around 10 weeks building up our Form F, which is then presented to panel when the time comes. We discussed our strengths and weaknesses, our childhoods, parenting style, what experience we did and didn’t’ have. You don’t need to have children to foster, it turned out that there were loads of things in our lives that contributed to us being suitable foster carers. Between us, we arranged times and dates that suited us, it was really flexible. We completed a few online courses which were easy to access and counted as part of our training. We were also given weekly tasks to complete, for example dealing with certain case studies and scenarios. We enjoyed doing these and felt it really helped to open our minds to fostering.
When we got our date to go to panel, we were excited but nervous. Our assessor was great and really had faith in our application. She was behind us 100%, providing support when we needed. Panel couldn’t have gone better, they were so encouraging and supportive. We were approved that day, for one child aged 0-18, for either respite, long-term or short-term fostering.
The First Placement
We received notification of our first placement, two weeks after being approved at panel. Since then, things have gone from strength to strength. We have attended regular training and receive weekly contact with our Supervising Social Worker Hannah who is fantastic.
Being LGBT hasn’t been an issue at all and we would recommend fostering to anyone regardless of their situation. Love is love, and these children need that. Don’t wait until tomorrow. Whether you’re single or in a relationship, employed or unemployed, you can foster, and the support you will receive is amazing.
We’d like to thank Melanie and Mel for taking the time out to talk to us, and for all their hard work.
If you’d like to start your own foster journey, register your interest here or call our team on 028 90 020 247.