Fostering

Fostering and adoption in east dunbartonshire logo
 

 

poster that shows a man and child reading together, two adults holding hands with child, woman with two children and a dog

In East Dunbartonshire we need carers who can provide a safe, stable and caring home for children and young people who for a number of reasons cannot live with their own families. Together we can support our own local children.

Fostering is an amazing journey that can turn a child’s life around, and provide rewards for you too. 

Don’t just take our word for it, here’s what our carers have to say:

Case studies: Foster Carers

Maureen and Bill“For anyone considering fostering, I would say absolutely go for it”

Maureen, foster carer, 51Maureen and Bill looking at a tablet device

Maureen and her husband Bill have been fostering for 13 years. Her fostering journey started following an experience in her former career. In the course of her work she had to visit a home where she witnessed young children living in a state of neglect, and who were subsequently taken into care.

She was so affected by what she had seen, and the helplessness that she had felt at the time, that she decided to apply to be a foster carer. She wanted to offer a safe, stable home for children like the ones she had seen, but hadn’t been able to help.  

Maureen recalls: “The children were being neglected. They weren’t being fed; the house was in an awful state, the bathroom floor looked like it was about to fall in and the children were being left alone in the house. They broke down and said that the mum had gone and had been gone for ages. The two younger children were still at school. I thought, ‘This is shocking, these children just need someone to love and care for them and their mum is not able to do that at this time’. I really felt like taking them in myself, but of course, I couldn’t.

The experience led to her and Bill registering their interest in fostering with East Dunbartonshire Council. “It was something we had thought about for a long time, but we were worried that if we fostered, our life would no longer and be our own.

“Our first young person, a girl, came to us for a weekend and stayed for five years. Our second young person, a young boy, also stayed with us for five years. I hate when people use the term “breakdown” when a placement ends. We supported them when the time came for them to move on to a more appropriate care setting. It was like a period of grief after, because you become very, very close to them and they are part of your family.

“I was always happy for them to be in contact with me after they left. We still see them and take for them for dinner once in a while. It does peter out but that’s nine years now since our first young person moved on and she will still send the occasional message.

“What we gave those children in the years they were with us, they will take that with them for the rest of their lives. They both say that they always think back to the places we used to take them, we took them abroad, to and the opportunities that they would never otherwise have had.”

After their second long term placement, the couple was considering retiring from fostering when they got a call about a 16 year-old girl and her 8-month old baby.

“Amanda’s dad was an alcoholic and her mum suffered from seizures and she had lived with an Aunt from the age of 1 to when she was 5 or 6 years old. Those years were actually quite positive, it was a good placement.

"Amanda was moved on to another family member. That was not a good placement, she was never really part of that family, she was on the periphery, and began to look for love and affection elsewhere.

“Then she became pregnant with James. Amanda’s family were very much against James seeing his dad and Amanda was given an ultimatum that it was the baby’s dad or them. So, she had gone to stay with a friend.

“You could see, when they came, that Amanda had no earthly idea of how to look after James. At 15, how on earth do you know how to bring up a baby? So we had to transfer all those skills and teach Amanda how to parent.

“By the time he came to us, James had already developed some habits around eating and so, since that time, we have pushed for him to see a dietician and he is on an eating regime and even now, he is still very focussed on food.

“We also had to try and rebuild Amanda and James’ relationship because she had gone back to school when he was four weeks old to prepare for her exams, that bond wasn’t there. Even now, they are still working on their relationship.

“We have had challenges and we have overcome them. James is an amazing, amazing boy. He can be hard work, but he is a wee personality.

“Amanda has overcome so many challenges. She came to us with the clothes on her back. She was failing everything at school and we got her tutors. We had all of those challenges that you have with your own children – the fights we had to get her to study - but we didn’t give up and this girl got her Highers, all Bs, and she then did an NC and a HNC at college in her chosen field. She now has a job. She has also passed her driving test and now that she is working she has a nice wee car. She got all that through sheer hard work and determination. I am so proud of her. She is just our daughter, she is ours.

“For anyone considering fostering, I would say absolutely go for it. There have been lots of challenges and bumps on the road but when you see a young person thriving... I would always say go for it.

“The one thing that is important is to make sure that you have support. You need to have a good network of friends and support, you couldn’t foster care without that. We also couldn’t have done it without our supervising social workers. The social work team at East Dunbartonshire Council is excellent, second to none.

“Even if I can’t get my supervising social worker, I know that I can speak to anybody else. We have support group meetings every six weeks or so and you meet the other foster carers. It’s important to build relationships with the other carers within your organisation because they are the guys that know, they are the guys that can help you. It is essential that you have support.”

“I was taught as a wee girl “you’ve got a good Glesga’ tongue in your heid, use it” and that is how I have approached it. I have advocated for them at every step. Anyone who wants to foster, don’t be afraid to fight for the kid that is in your care because nobody else has. These kids are depending on us for their future, they need us to be that person.”

*Names have been changed

Sam and Ali“We are a same sex couple and neither of us are parents, but we felt we had enough contact with children through family and our jobs to offer respite care”

Sam & Ali, 35 and 31, respite carers for 18 monthsSam and Ali taking a selfie with their child

“We had no previous experience of fostering before this, “says Sam. “We are a same sex couple and neither of us are parents. However, we felt we had enough contact with children through both our families and both our jobs to be able to offer a warm and safe environment for one or maybe two children on a respite basis.

We chose respite because we recognised that other commitments meant that we could not take on full time fostering.

“The training prior to our being approved as foster carers was really helpful in exploring the issues affecting looked after children. It also gave us the confidence to know that we could become foster carers and it allowed us the space and time to realise that we were fully committed to doing this.

“Soon after our approval we started supporting one young girl, who was already in a full time foster placement, by providing respite for one weekend a month. Eighteen months later and this is still the arrangement. As it has been the same child coming to us, we have been able to build a good relationship with her over this time. This is what we had hoped for – the chance to provide consistency and stability in a child’s life over a period of time.

“We’ve learned a lot over the last eighteen months. For one thing, we’ve learned that it is a subtle balancing act between going with the needs of the child and what we thought we should be doing! For example, we have learned that even if we have a fun day out planned, if she is not up for it, then equally it is ok to have a quiet day in.

“In the beginning we played a lot of board games which we now realise was a good way to get to know each other. Once we found out what she liked doing, we were able to choose activities around this.

“We value the on-going, consistent and reliable support of our supervising social worker and the contact with other foster carers, in particular the foster carers of the child that we help look after. It is very helpful to have phone catch-ups before the respite weekend. Overall, we find being respite foster carers a rewarding and fulfilling experience and feel privileged that we can help a young person progress through life.”

PaulineHaving worked hard in my career, I was in my late thirties when I took a career break and became a foster carer”

Pauline, single, 52, foster carer for 14 yearsPauline styling a girl's hair

Pauline has been fostering for 14 years. Having worked hard in her chosen career, she was in her late 30s when she took a career break and became a foster carer.

She has looked after a newborn for a couple of weeks and two infants who stayed with her for a year or so before moving to live with their adopted families. She had two girls who came to her as very young children and now, more than a decade later, stay with her permanently. She has also provided respite care for two older teenagers.

This is her story:

“I came to fostering because I couldn’t have children of my own. I had been through fertility treatment without success and then my relationship sadly broke up. I couldn’t see my life without kids.

“Fostering seemed the obvious path for me but I knew that I would be coming to it as a single parent. I choose fostering instead of adoption because I was worried I might not be any good. Fostering, for me, was a way to have experience of looking after children. I felt I had the skills and the love to give, but I still worried about if I was able to do it. I put a lot of thought into it.

“Applying to become a foster carer was a long, in-depth process and I knew that I had to be committed to do it. A lot of time is spent making sure that you have the skills and commitment.

“Within two weeks of being approved a newborn baby arrived from hospital. It was daunting, exciting, overwhelming and wonderful at the same time. I felt privileged to be part of this little boy’s life at such an important stage. Everything you have been taught suddenly comes into play. I always knew he was going onto another family after a couple of weeks but I still cried my eyes out.

Pauline had another two other infants who stayed with her for a year or so. In both cases she has maintained a relationship with the child and his adoptive family. “When they leave, you can feel devastated as you have formed such a bond but I am very fortunate to have good relationships with both sets of adoptive parents. I am kept up to date on how they are doing and that has made it so much easier. The joy that you can give to those parents, the information you can pass on because you know the child so well, it’s just a lovely thing to be a part of.

Two years into her fostering journey, two little girls came to live with her and more than a decade later, they are now with her on a more permanent basis but she still benefits from social work support.

“Being a foster carer has been hugely satisfying for me. It has allowed me to develop skills I didn’t know I had. It has increased my empathy and my understanding of how people react . My skills have been tested with kids who potentially have had trauma in their early life.

“I feel so blessed to have my two amazing girls in my life. We are a family. One of my girls has a learning disability and she is so inspiring. She is fabulous and she taught me a lot. I’ve had to think outside the box, listen and understand. I never would have thought I could have cared for a child with additional needs but fostering brings out skills you never knew you had. In other jobs, you always have the choice to walk away. Being a foster carer, you have to find a solution and that is one of the real skills you develop. You become a great problem solver.

“It is immensely rewarding and also challenging. I had never been a parent outside of this experience but if you are already a parent, you already know the score. I wouldn’t want my life to be any different. I love my life and my kids.

“The feedback I get from the professionals is that they can see a huge difference in their resilience and self esteem.

“My kids’ start in life was not good and there were certain behaviours that came out of that, but we have worked hard to manage that. They are now secure, confident, independent and value themselves. I hope that some of that has been down to me.”

Roya - “It may be just me and her but if I have any concerns I always have my own Supervising Social Worker to run things by”

Roya, 46, single, foster carer for six monthsRoya in a field with the sunset in the distance

“My morning starts like everyone else’s. The alarm goes off and I press snooze for another five minutes. Then it’s time to get up and wake her up. She gets up cheery and bright, eager to start her day. Once breakfast is done teeth are brushed and her school bag is checked. Then we are all set to go. She puts our dog on the leash to walk to school, which she does with pride.

“The walk is very important as we chat about what’s happening at school, who is friends with who, and should she play, football or dodge ball? As I look down I smile at her. She seems content and happy. I joke with her and mention, yesterday whilst playing football she fell and needed three plasters. I joked that reading might be less painful?

“We also talked about her last meeting and checked she understood the decisions made and why. I leave her to walk to the lollipop man, knowing she will look back. She turns and waves whilst saying “I think I will just do football but I’ll try not to fall - memo to self to buy more plasters!”

“I catch up with chores, but often, I will attend training or meetings regarding her welfare. Before I know it, it’s home time and the walk home involves listening to how her day was, which I look forward to, as she is so excited and gives me lots of detail.

“Once home its homework and dinner time, which is done super-fast because she has a new friend across the road. It’s lovely to watch her on her scooter, laughing and enjoying the company of others. It’s getting harder for her to come in when out playing as she wants five minutes more. I remind her she can play out again tomorrow and she’s content with this. Time for dinner and unwinding for bed.

“Her bedtime routine involves lots of fun laughter and cuddles. The fun is crucial for her to learn how to laugh and play. She needs help to cuddle as she doesn’t always quite know what to do with a cuddle. She needs firm boundaries as this helps her to feel safe, but this is mixed with me being very patient, consistent with lots of shared laughter. When I think about it, I see how much she is starting to trust me, she is able to talk more about her feelings and initiate time where she needs reassurance and cuddles.

“My day may be very full, but equally is very rewarding. If I have any concerns I always have my own Supervising Social Worker to run things by. This helps me to reflect on my own interactions with her, remembering to be patient, whilst taking into account that her emotions are much younger than her actual age.”

Maria“My husband and I became foster carers when our children left home”

Maria, 61, foster carer for four yearsMaria with a little girl looking out a window

“When you become a foster carer you are fully aware that everything you are doing is for the benefit of the child,” said Maria. “This means caring and nurturing them and ultimately treating them like part of your own family until their birth parents are in better situation to look after them.

“When children arrive they are often traumatised by their home lives so it is important that I take the time to welcome them into my home and reassure them.

“Some children may have low self-esteem and often believe the situation is their own fault. It’s my job to give the children care and stability in their lives and to support them through school until the time is right for them to leave my care.

“The children are often frightened and frustrated, and their behaviour might reflect this, but you need to treat them respectfully so that they feel wanted and valued.

“Foster care is hard work. You have got to have a lot of patience, a good sense of humour and plenty of time to spare, as there are numerous meetings and appointments such as with health and education in addition to social work meetings to attend. My husband’s great at the humour and I get to do all the organising!

“My husband and I decided to become foster carers when our two children left home and we had more spare time. We discussed it for a long time and decided that it was right for us. It’s nice to have the children around the house and care for them as they grow up as part of our family.

“To see them settle into a new way of life and witness their confidence and self-esteem increase is wonderful.”
 

 

Case studies:Young People

For children and young people, the benefits of fostering are life-changing. Here, two young people from East Dunbartonshire talk about their experience of foster care.

Amanda and James“I’ve not just gained foster parents, I’ve gained a whole foster family.”

Amanda, 20Amanda and James in the park

The first years of Amanda’s life were relatively stable. While her parents were unable to look after her due to their own health issues – alcoholism and epilepsy - she was able to live with an Aunt, referred to as Kinship Care, from the age of one.

Four happy, stable years followed, but when Amanda was sent to live with another Aunt and her family, she always struggled to fit in to the existing family unit. 

When she was 14 she became pregnant and her son James was born when she was 15.

Her relationship with the family deteriorated when they asked her to sever contact with James’ father. She and James went to stay with a friend, whose mum contacted Social Work Services to ask for help.

“To me, it was really important for James to be able to see his dad. I don’t know if that was because I didn’t have the best relationship with my Mum and Dad growing up, but it was really important to me.

It was at this point that Maureen entered her story.

“A social worker brought me over to Maureen’s house. It was the weirdest thing walking up the driveway and thinking, “What do I do now?” I felt relief but also a bit apprehensive. I knew it was going to be different but being out of the situation that I had been in made it a lot easier. At that point, everyone thought it would be for a week or two and then I would go back to my Aunt’s house. Five years later and I am still here.”

Once at Maureen and Bill’s she had to get James settled into a childminder’s and then get back to school. “Maureen gave me a hug before I left for school and I was like, “What are you doing? What is this for?” That was the first time I had actually had a hug on the way to school.

“My life just before I came here was totally different. Before, when I came home from school, I had to look after James. I had my exams coming up but I needed to wait until James was asleep at night before I could do any study and then he would be up again at 10 o’clock looking for another bottle.

“I do sometimes think about how different things could have been had I not come here. There was a mother and baby unit which might have been an option, but then I wouldn’t have had the support that I’ve had from Maureen and Bill, it would just have been me and James. I knew very quickly that it was going to be a good place for us.”

The placement has allowed Amanda to remain as James’ main carer and to benefit from Maureen and Bill’s advice on how to parent.

“James is something else,” she says. “He is funny. He is like a wee old man stuck in a kid’s body. He has been here before, definitely. The family obviously has made a really big impact on James as well. He calls Maureen and Bill, Gran and Papa.”

“They have helped me so much with my relationship with James. So much about being a mum I didn’t know, I was only young. Maureen sat me down and told me a lot of basics of how James might be feeling and what to do, but they were basics that I didn’t know. Maureen really encouraged me to spend time developing that relationship with James, but also make sure that I saw my friends on my own because I was still a teenager as well.”

The confidence Amanda has gained has been immense.  

“I would not have been able to do half of what I have done without them. Bill is always giving me wee pep talks. It’s not just Maureen and Bill either, it is their whole family. Even when I first came, I was always included in the family. I’ve not just gained foster parents, I’ve gained a whole foster family.

“For me, the highlights of these past five years have been when I got my exam results through and then my college qualifications. I know if I had stayed where I was I wouldn’t have been able to go to college because there wouldn’t have been that support there.”

Andrew“I am grateful for the life my foster carers have given me. This has been the best life I could have hoped for”

Andrew, 17Andrew fixing a bicycle

Andrew is a 17-year-old from East Dunbartonshire. He was placed in foster care when he was aged 13. Here is his story in his own words.

“My dad left my mum when I was a few months old so it was just me and my mum for a long time.  We moved around a lot. My mum had a history of alcoholism. There was an incident where I woke up and my mum was not too well and I just had to sit and watch. I phoned an ambulance and then social work got involved and they moved me in with my foster carers. It took me a while to get used to it but I love it now. 

“I felt quite sad that I wasn’t going to be living with my mum or my step-dad, who brought me up as well. My mum and step-dad broke up and he went to live on his own. There were a lot of empty spaces in my life which my foster carers helped me fill because they gave me everything I needed really. They made me feel happy. 

“Everyone is always up at the house. It’s one of those houses where family never stops dropping in. I make tea for my foster mum – she says I make good tea. My foster dad and I like to do outdoor activities together like going walking, camping and fishing. We are planning on doing the West Highland Way. 

“My foster dad is a bit of a joker. He’s always playing pranks. He is brilliantly stupid sometimes. He is not the type of person to sit around, he always has to be doing something.


“My relationship with them is very close. They are always trying to encourage me to do things for myself, like do my own cooking, I can do that now, although her cooking is the best. My foster dad encourages me to iron my own clothes. They are just trying to teach me to be able to live independently. 


“Every day is always good with my foster parents but the thing that I always love is on a Sunday, whether it is warm or rainy, loads of family come up and my foster mum makes a massive steak pie and everyone is there and we all just eat together and watch TV. It’s not much, but it means a lot to me. 


“I think they are proud of me for trying to do my own thing and go to college. They’ve seen how I’ve progressed over the years. They are proud of how far I am getting. 


“I am grateful for the life they have given me. This has been the best life I could have hoped for.”


We know it’s important that you have the right support, learning and development and we provide this regularly:

  • You will have your own support worker and you will be central to the team around the child.
  • Our foster carer support group meets regularly and we can provide a supportive carer buddy.
  • We provide competitive fees and allowances to help you provide the best opportunities for children.

Our services are regulated and inspected by the Care Inspectorate to ensure we meet the right care standards.

Keen to find out more about fostering in East Dunbartonshire? See our Frequently Asked Questions below:

FAQs

Why do children and young people need foster care?

Children and young people need foster care for a variety of reasons when they are not able to remain at home with their birth families.

Who are the children and young people who need carers?

Children from birth to 18 years of age. Single children or brothers and sisters who need to be together. Children who may have had difficult or upsetting experiences. Children who need extra care, support and guidance because they have not always received the care and attention they needed. Children from various religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds.

What skills do I need to be a foster carer?

A genuine interest in the wellbeing of children. Experience of caring for children, even if you are not a parent. You will need common sense; time and energy; a sense of humour; patience; commitment; tolerance; space in your home and flexibility.  

Who can be a foster carer?

A married or unmarried couple or a single person. Working, unemployed or retired. With or without children at home or elsewhere. A home owner or living in rented accommodation. From any cultural, religious or ethnic background.

What type of care do children and young people need?

Emergency Care: There are times when children need to be cared for with very little notice, for example when a parent is admitted to hospital, or if a child needs to be protected from harm.

Temporary: Children and young people will be placed with a carer until such time that the situation at home is resolved, and return to their parents. The children or young people will usually be having a high level of contact with their parents.

Permanent: Children and young people are placed with permanent carers when, for a variety of reasons, they are unable to return to their birth family. In this situation, whilst children may not be able to return home, they may continue to have ongoing contact with their parents.

Respite: This involves having children to stay, usually for weekend breaks, or sometimes a little longer. This allows a family or child to have regular breaks, or a full time foster carer to spend time with their own family.

Shared care: This gives the opportunity for children who may have physical or learning difficulties, and their families, regular short breaks. Shared Care offers this support in the form of overnight or weekend stays, or even holidays on a regular basis.

What support will I receive after a child is placed?

You will receive regular support by your own supervising Social Worker. There will also be the opportunity to be involved in training and support groups. You will also receive information, advice and support from the child’s own Social Worker. Access to support from specialists is available to advise and support on how best to respond to a child or young person’s individual needs. A fee and allowance, based on the age of the child, will be paid to you to cover the cost of caring.

What happens next?

After you get in touch by phone, email or by completing the online contact form, we will be pleased to talk with you about becoming a foster carer and whether this is right for you and your family. A home visit with one of the supervising Social Workers can be arranged at a convenient time, where you will have the opportunity to discuss becoming a foster carer in more detail. This will be followed by a foster carer preparation group with others who are interested in becoming carers, where you will be able to meet experienced carers and other members of the team.

You will be asked to complete an application form which asks for your permission for police, social work and health checks to be carried out.

The next stage is to start a detailed assessment of your personal circumstances and suitability as a carer, which will involve visits from a supervising Social Worker.

You will be asked to name referees, including an employer (if you are working), who can comment on your suitability to care for children. The assessment report will be discussed with you and presented to East Dunbartonshire Council’s Fostering Panel, which you will be invited to attend. The Panel will make a recommendation about whether you should be approved as a foster carer.

 

 

Boy and older woman