Here is part three of our five part series from our gay foster carers, talking about their experience of becoming carers with Leeds City Council.
“My partner and I came away from the open evening more determined to become foster carers than when we arrived. Later the same week, having left our details, we were contacted by the recruitment team manager and we arranged for him to visit us in our home for a more detailed chat.
“The following week he and a colleague visited to discuss further our reasons, reservations and concerns. They also had a look around our home to make sure it was suitable. All went well and they left us with an application form to complete should we wish to. We didn’t feel under any pressure to make a decision there and then but the truth was we’d made our minds up after the open evening: fostering is what we wanted to do.
“We completed the application form and returned it for approval. Not long afterward we received an official letter saying our application had been successful and we had been assigned a social worker who would complete our assessment. This letter brought with it both excitement and fear. We need not have feared anything though; the woman who came was very open and honest and talked us through the whole process from the initial visit to becoming approved foster carers. We were told what to expect from the beginning and to be truthful.
“The assessment took several months which seemed long at the time but looking back I can understand why – these things need to be thorough. No stone was left unturned during the assessment but part way through it really did seem like we were talking to a friend – all sorts of topics were covered such as our own childhoods, our opinions on certain topics, how we got together and significant ex-partners. Details on coming out were discussed as well as our strengths and weaknesses. She came to know us better than we knew ourselves!
“Our social worker even visited my mother and a couple of our mutual friends on one occasion too. We also received numerous letters of support from friends and colleagues. This was all to gather information and opinions for a very large report that had to be produced on us and our suitability to become foster carers.
“As well as the sessions with our social worker we had to have a Disclosure and Barring Service check [the replacement to the old CRB checks], a medical and, most importantly attend a three day ‘skills to foster’ course.
“We completed this course early in our assessment and thought it was massively beneficial. It gave us facts, scenarios, discussion topics and group work to do. No topic was taboo, although sometimes this was a little difficult – talking in detail about abuse for instance. Obviously you can’t cover every eventuality in a three day course but what it did cover was eye opening, thought provoking and very beneficial. We even got to talk to a current foster carer. More details tomorrow!”