Carol – TACT Foster Carer since 2006
This has been something of a testing experience as our daily lives have changed so much and I have been so busy keeping my four foster children occupied, positive and safe during these unprecedented times. But in comparison to so many people losing their lives due to COVID-19, businesses struggling, and the pressures faced by NHS staff, I don’t feel like I have it so bad.
The biggest challenge I am facing is that one of my foster children has Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FASD), which means she is unable to rationalise and cope with all the change, especially the fact that she is not able to go to school. My husband Pete has stopped working so that he can be home and help me with her because her behaviour is very volatile at the moment. She has been with us for five years, but having to keep her occupied during these very difficult circumstances has been so stressful because she has regular tantrums and I’ve been close to tears at times. I am lucky that I have the support of Pete, and my amazing friend Ellen, who is also a TACT foster carer, and of course my wonderful TACT social worker Richard.
It has been very full on, and financially draining, having the children at home all the time. Trying to keep them occupied has been difficult as we are not able to go to the park, or for a drive somewhere, so we have had to compensate by purchasing stuff for the garden including a 12ft trampoline, a picnic bench, sandpit, a giant Jenga, sand, plus jigsaws, craft stuff, maths books, etc.
My food bill is huge, goodness can’t keep up with the demand for ice creams and snacks etc. We were lucky to get a supermarket delivery slot, but so much of our order was out of stock when it arrived so Pete still had to go out shopping. Would gladly just pay the £2.20 for school dinners as it would be cheaper.
In terms of organising contact with birth family for my foster children, the younger two have been able to chat to their family via WhatsApp. Usually we would go to a play gym, cinema, park and out for a meal with their family but obviously that is not possible at the moment and being so young they have struggled to know what to talk about via a video call. Fortunately, I have a good relationship with their family so I have been able to keep them updated on what has been going on.
Courtney – TACT’s Children’s Resource Worker, has chatted to all four children by WhatsApp, and the older two children have been involved in virtual meetings and text messaging with both TACT and local authority social workers. My social worker – Richard, has been in regular contact with me. When it comes to my own family it has been really tough not seeing my grandchildren, as they don’t understand why our foster children can be with us but they cannot.
A positive to come out of lockdown is that with Pete home more and all of us spending so much more quality time together, we have grown much closer and strengthened bonds between us. A highlight of each day is when we all take our dogs for a walk together, which the children really love.
This time has reminded me that my husband and I are a good fostering team. Together we are doing our best to make sure that the children are happy. To be fair they are mostly coping well and it is fortunate that we have a large garden they can play in.