To highlight Midlothian Council’s new campaign to recruit foster carers we tell how even providing short-term care can make such a difference.
Carers like Michelle Dow often start their fostering careers by offering weekend or short term placements to a child or young person in need.
Michelle, who lives in Dalkeith with her five-year-old daughter, says she would recommend it. She said: “I chose to do short term fostering at the beginning because I wanted to gain experience as a foster carer and I also thought it might be easier for my daughter than having someone in the house full-time.”
Michelle, who has been fostering now for just over a year, offered short-term care to a three-year-old girl. She has also recently been caring for two teenage siblings every weekend.
She says this has confirmed she would like to become a full time foster carer: “That was always my plan, to start off doing the short-term before moving to full-time foster care.
“I think the best thing about fostering is seeing the young people ‘grow’. The two teenagers I had at weekends have recently been given full-time placements so it was really nice to see them go to their forever home.
“The hardest part about the job is saying goodbye.”
Michelle wanted to foster after experiencing disruption in her own childhood for various reasons including her mum being in hospital. She said: “We relied on grandparents and family friends to look after us and if we didn’t have that we might have ended up in the care system ourselves.”
Like the children in her care, Michelle has her own social worker who visits monthly and is on the other end of the phone if she needs to talk.
Michelle goes to a support group for new carers and attends ongoing training sessions in subjects such as child protection. The ongoing training will eventually lead to an SVQ 3 qualification in childcare, which carers can then use if they ever want to pursue other roles in early learning.
It took Michelle just over a year to become a foster carer, from first enquiry to panel approval. She added: “There are challenges but I’d really recommend it.”
Find out more about fostering at www.midlothian.gov.uk/fostering