In our ‘5 minutes with’ column, we chat with new foster carer Doreen who gives insight into her inspiration to become a foster carer and what the fostering assessment process is like.

If you’ve been interested in becoming a foster carer then this is a must read for background on the key steps in the application process, and the commitment to helping children and young people that foster carers possess.

What was your inspiration to become a foster carer? 

Doreen comments: “I have always had an interest to work with children right from when I was a young girl. I grew up in a household that was child focused. In our house my parents always helped people who were not able to provide for their children.

“When I had my own children everybody complemented me on how well I brought them up as a working single mother. I love children and try to do the best for them to be happy which I feel people around me have observed. I also have to say that my strong faith has been with me the whole journey and I have such an interest in looking after young people – which is the drive to achieve anything in life.

“Because of this interest, I have been working with a parent and child unit for five years helping them be better parents. I really get excited when parents turn their life around and you can see the positive impact it has on their children.

“I had the desire to become a foster carer for a while but I was waiting for the right moment considering my children’s needs first. It felt the right time to share my skills and experiences for a young person out there who needs a bit of guidance and motivation to provide a safe and secure home for a child that may be in need.”

How has your professional career helped you in your role as foster carer?

Doreen gives background into how her professional background has helped her in this new path: “Fostering comes easy to me because I have a strong desire to make a difference. I used to work with a mother and baby unit for five year before fostering.

“My job as a family support worker exposed me to almost everything I am doing as a foster carer. This includes assessing parenting skills, guiding parents on safety issues around their children, guiding parents on nutrition and age appropriate food, supporting parents to access services, such as drug and alcohol services, depending on their individual needs. Encouraging and supporting parents to prioritise their children’s needs over theirs. I supported parents to stay on top of things like housing and medical appointments.”

How has your own upbringing influenced you?

Doreen also draws on her family focused upbringing and her mother as her role model and a real influence in her life and career as a foster carer, Doreen says: “I grew up with both a mum and dad who were always there for me. The best part of my life till now is when I was growing up as a little girl. I am the second to last child and I had older siblings who protected me, and my mother was our best friend. She was always talking to us and guiding us. We all found her fun and easy to speak to.

She always had answers and solutions for every problem. She was a stay-at-home mum. My dad worked so we saw him less, but when he was home he gave us his time. But by far our mother was our confidante, she was child focussed even though she might not call it that. She was always supportive not only to her biological children but other children in the family. She was known for her kindness and being family oriented.

“I feel I have been able to offer my children my best because I was privileged to grow up in a loving household that was child focused and prioritised children needs.”

What’s it like going through the assessment process? 

Doreen comments: ‘Going through the assessment process has been tiring for me because of the situations we’re in due to the social distancing and staying at home because of the Coronavirus. It has been a challenge with children not going to school, having to teach and work and fix time for assessment. But it’s a challenge I’ve risen to and adapted to – as have all foster carers throughout these unprecedented times.

“Other than that, I have been privileged to work with Janice, a senior practitioner at OwnLife Fostering, who has been very understanding.

“I am very positive and have enjoyed working with the OwnLife team. I like the fact that it’s a small team. Being new to fostering, I feel a small team is better for me to access support and guidance when needed.”

What do you most look forward to in your career as a foster carer?

Doreen adds: ‘As a parent and a person with children’s interest at heart I really look forward to sharing my skills and changing as many lives as possible. There are too many children that need a safe home. It’s my dream to be able to support them.”

What has it been like to work with OwnLife?

Doreen says: ‘I have enjoyed working with the team. I feel a part of the team already. I have a good working relationship with my supervising social worker. I feel free to ask any questions and seek her guidance when needed. The training was well delivered and covered most areas that I wanted to know about.”

Become a foster carer at OwnLife Fostering 

Whether you’re a foster carer looking to change agencies or you want to embark on the foster care career path, call on 020 8313 3304 or fill out our contact form to start your foster application.

We’re currently looking for foster carers in the following areas: CroydonGreenwichLewishamBexley, LambethBromleyMerton, Sutton, and Southwark.