Foster Carer Foster Parents Fostering

Read from one of our carers, their experiences and insight when looking after Unaccompanied Minors.

Read from one of our carers, their experiences and insight when looking after Unaccompanied Minors.

Read from one of our carers, their experiences and insight when looking after Unaccompanied Minors.

My husband and I have been fostering for just over 10 years. We have 3 boys of our own ranging in ages from 14 years to 26 years and currently 2 foster boys in placement.
We have been with Sunbeam for 7 years and fostered 19 children. The majority of these have been unaccompanied minors and mainly boys. The children are normally in their teenage years.
Many people find teenage boys quite daunting but we thoroughly enjoy working with them and feeling that we are making a small difference to their lives.

A lot of the boys that come to us are newly arrived in the UK and often the first barrier we face is the language. Our family speak English, Punjabi, Urdu and Hindi fluently but often we get children that don’t speak any of these languages. It’s not as scary as it seems. The one thing you have in common is that you all want the best outcomes for the child.

When they first arrive, it is important to have a good handover from the Social Worker. I try to get as many details as possible in order to be able to support the young person as much as I can. They usually arrive with an interpreter for the initial handover and I use this opportunity to ask them about their routines, dietary requirements or any other basic information we need to know to start the placement. This is also a good time to talk through our house rules and explain the family set up.

It does take a few days for the young person to settle down. The way we work is we keep our routines exactly the same and after a few days, that child will find his or her place in your routine and family. We find this is a really successful way of working for our family. We don’t expect the young person to integrate with us overnight. That doesn’t happen and it’s not a realistic expectation.

We encourage them to take part in family activities over the first few weeks and ease them into our routines. We are very lucky that our own boys are very laid back and accepting and are actually very good role models and a support system for us and the foster children. We are a very close family and do lots of family based activities. The foster children are always a part of these activities and this really helps with making them feel comfortable in the family and bonding with each other.
We make the foster children aware that there are no taboos around discussions or conversations in our family and they know they can talk to us about anything that may be worrying them.
It is equally important to have rules and boundaries. Having worked in schools with disengaged boys we know from research that children thrive when they have boundaries as this shows them that someone cares and is willing to invest in them. That doesn’t mean that those rules and boundaries aren’t pushed or broken but it is important to be consistent and fair at the same time. A lot of children in foster care have lacked consistency and boundaries.

When we are dealing with Unaccompanied minors there are several things that have to be put in place after their arrival. GP registration, dental check-up, sight tests and a course of immunisations.

More often than not, they will have several appointments at the Home Office that will need to be facilitated. This will also include appointments with a Solicitor and possibly other organisations like the Red Cross or Barnardos.

The one thing I am always really glad to hear is that the foster children feel that they are safe. For a lot of unaccompanied minors that is the most important. It is very rewarding to hear that the little things we do make such a big difference to a child’s life.