Vikki’s Story - Fostering as a single mum
24 August 2023
24 August 2023
Vikki is a delight to speak with. A former teaching assistant and single mum of three boys, she came into foster care following a chance meeting with another foster carer who had a child in her class. In the video below, Vikki shares the process involved from her first enquiry into fostering, to life now with her 'forever child', an 11-year-old girl:
“It’s magical…it’s the best feeling in the world to think that you are helping one other child. It just makes me feel all warm inside - it makes me feel amazing!“ - Vikki, Foster Carer
24 August 2023
Read the transcript of Vikki's video below:
The Decision to Foster
Vikki: "I decided to foster with Blue Sky because my friend completely raved about you, and the service I’ve had has been next to none. I can’t fault you. Even with the slightest of questions when I’ve needed to ring; someone is always on the end of the phone, and they’ve been completely supportive throughout the whole journey.
Before I fostered, I was a stay-at-home mum until I had my third child. Then I began working at a local primary school. I became a HLTA, which is slightly higher than a teaching assistant, so I had my own classes.
Just to be able to think that you can help so many different children do so many different things!; That was my goal at the school. I ended up being a mentor. I was able to do attachment-based work with children.
I thought, if I could give just one child the most amazing experience that my three children have had, then they would be lucky - and I would be just as lucky to be fair."
Waiting for the Perfect Match
Vikki: "The application process was slightly different than I imagined. I thought you would just make a phone call, have a few checks, and everything would be done. But that’s far from it.
They find out every single little, tiny thing they can find out about you, which is correct because that’s what they need to do. And they work through it with you. You are never alone in having to work with everything; there is always somebody there.
Waiting for my first child I have been the most impatient person you can imagine! I wanted to go to Panel and then the next day get the child, but it doesn’t work like that at all! Once I’d been to Panel I was then recommended to do respite, which I did throughout the whole of the summer holidays.
Respite is when you are looking after somebody else's child for a short period of time. I had a mixture of different children, which was fantastic, but all the time in the back of my head I was waiting for that one referral to be my child, my forever child. I had a really good connection with the TLC team. One of the ladies there, we’ve grown really fond of each other, and we’re really good friends. She learnt so much about me that she managed to find the perfect match.
As soon as I got that referral through, I was so excited! I wanted her to arrive the next day. The waiting process: you have to wait for the right one. They don’t ask you to wait for no reason; you’re waiting because they want you to have the perfect child that you are going to end up looking after forever."
Vikki: "The support I've received from the Blue Sky team has been amazing. I don’t have one bad thing to say about anybody. They seem to have the most amazing staff that work for them. They are so caring and so loving.
Nothing is too much trouble for anybody, from somebody who is really high up in the company to somebody who is just a foster mum like myself, they have always been at the end of the phone for any questions that I've had. If somebody doesn’t have the answer, they will find it out for you. They just care about you, and they care about these young children.
Any training that I’ve been given is all through Blue Sky; if I’ve wanted to find out about something, someone has put me in the right direction. Or I’ve wanted to learn a little bit more about a behaviour issue a child’s had then someone will recommend a book, or they will suggest watching a certain film about it– it just opens your eyes up to it all and makes you realise that it’s magical.
It’s one of the best things in the world to be fair… if that makes sense?! As you can tell, I love it!"
Blue Sky Training
Vikki: "The training that Blue Sky provided us with was extremely helpful. I was quite lucky because in my previous job, I did a lot of training for children with additional needs and I definitely think that’s helped, but you don’t need to have that, because they provide you with all the training. There’s not one training course you can’t do.
You are actually allocated a password for a system where you can go on and request to do different trainings. If you can’t see the training that you need, you just ring through to the office and say you’d like to do teams training - or something different - and they will allocate you the space and the time to be able to do the training."
The Reward of Fostering
Vikki: "Fostering means everything to me. I thought that I got job satisfaction from working at the school. I used to mentor a handful of children and used to think I could help them as much as I possibly could, but as soon as the end of the day comes the children still have to go home and deal with the situations at home.
I’ve had the opportunity to foster one child and to be able to change her life completely and give her everything that she’s ever needed. And to think that I am the lucky one that has been chosen to have her, and vice versa. And yes, she is just… I can’t even put it into words. It’s magical…it’s the best feeling in the world to think that you are just helping one other child. It just makes me feel all warm inside - if that makes sense? It does! It makes me feel amazing.
The most rewarding part of fostering? Before you have your own foster child and you have children for respite, that is very rewarding. Just to think that you have been able to help another foster parent or Foster Carers out for the weekend; to be able to give them some time so that their foster child can be able to spend some time with you. That’s the real fun part of it.
You get to do things with them that they have probably never experienced or little things, or they have probably never been to where you live or experienced different cultures. Just to be able to look after my foster child I think it’s… There are no words! It’s just… There are no words… I don’t really know what to say - I’ll cry! I get so emotional about it! I’m just so blessed!"
The Simple Things
Vikki: "To be a great Foster Carer I just think you need to be really patient: always be there in the morning just to say good morning to them, or to drop them off at school and to tell them to have a good day. It’s just simple little things. You haven’t got to be the most amazing person in the world. You just have to be you. You have to want to give them everything you possibly can and make them feel like they are part of your family and that nothing is going to change. You are there to look after them and support them. And laughter – laughter is amazing – to be able to sit and laugh with them at the silliest things, it’s just… it makes your heart melt.
If you are thinking about becoming a Foster Carer, I would say pick up the phone and ring Blue Sky and just say that you are interested, and the rest is simple. They pretty much do everything for you. I feel that there are always different situations where people think that they can’t be a foster carer because they are a single mum or a single dad and that doesn’t mean anything. You can foster a child so long as you have a loving home. It makes no odds: the child is still going to be loved."
Everything and More
Vikki: "Has fostering been what I expected? Yes and no. It’s been everything and more. Being able to love another child: when you have your own children, I truly believed that my heart wasn’t big enough to love anybody else. But as soon as that one other child entered my house there’s no doubt about it, the love you feel for them and the protection...you just want to look after them and care for them, and it’s absolutely amazing.
The no bit is probably from respite; I learnt an awful lot from respite, as in the fact that not every child is the same. Some children have really got additional needs. You need to be trained and be aware of things like that. And some of the children that I had during respite were very tricky.
But as long as you have the mindset that you are not going to give up and you are really going to try - and there’s always someone on the end of the phone who will talk to you. During respite, I’ve had to make phone calls and say ‘Look, I need help or advice with this’, and somebody’s helped me straight away. So, it’s never really been a problem."
Highs and Lows
Vikki: "I’ve had quite a few highlights with different children. Bring able to offer respite to a child during the summer holidays who had never been fishing: My son absolutely adores fishing and the child we had for respite said there was no way he was going to hold a fish or even go fishing. Within the first hour, he’d held a fish and ran around the fishing lake screaming because he was so excited. I just wanted to cry! That was something he would never have experienced unless we had sat there with him and explained to him that the fish wasn’t going to hurt him, and nothing bad was going to come of it - he was just going to get to hold it… And that experience is going to stay with him forever, so I’ll always remember that.
And another child, taking them to play crazy golf, they’d never – they didn’t even know what to do with the golf ball. So, to be able to just show them. And by the end of the golf course, them being able to get a hole-in-one and them just turning around and smiling at you and just saying thank you. And you think, that’s just precious moments, isn’t it? Very precious.
The hardest part of fostering has probably been for me trying to get everything right. And you can’t get everything right. As a foster carer, I’ve learnt so much since having my placement child, my forever child. It’s not all black and white. It’s very much pick your battles with different things. They’ve come from such a traumatic experience and some of them will never get used to the fact that they have a clean bedroom or clean clothes, or that there’s food on the table, but just to think that to be able to offer them that: it just makes it all worthwhile."
Feedback to Blue Sky
Vikki: "I would just like to say to the Blue Sky staff that you are all amazing and the work that you do is absolutely incredible. I will say, Ashley – it makes me emotional! - you are lovely. You are all lovely, I’ve experienced the most amazing time with you, and now I’ve got my forever child… I’m just one of the lucky ones and I feel so privileged to be able to get to look after her – even down to the social workers, to everybody, all of you – if I could name you all I would but I can’t, but yes, you’ve all been amazing! Thank you, thank you all so much! I love that I got to do it! Thank you! I love it!"