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Images of two people in front of the fountain

A Week in the Life of a Foster Carer: Shqiponja

Published: 15 May 2024
Filed under: Stories of the Forest

Monday: Celebrating a birthday 

We celebrate each child’s birthday and follow traditions. We always have a birthday cake, lots of food and gather at the table together for dinner. My (birth) daughters and son-in law always join us to celebrate our foster children’s birthdays too, they are all part of our family. We give presents and money for them to buy themselves something. We reflect on the past and talk about goals for the coming year.  

We always take lots of pictures and upload them with captions on a secure app called ‘CaringLife’, which is a bit like Instagram to use. The app gives children and young people in care digital access to all their life memories and documents in a very private and secure way.   

Tuesday: Meeting my Supervising Social Worker (SSW) 

I meet with my dedicated SSW once every month. She is like a member of our family. We meet for two hours face to face in my home and discuss everything including any challenges that may have occurred. She always listens and gives me space to talk through things. Her support has been great, I know that I am not alone in caring for my foster children. She raises things up to her managers if she needs to.  

My foster children have their own Social Workers. My SSW is my support, she holds me accountable to carry out my role well but also helps me. She makes sure I am looking after myself too so that I am able to care for my young people.  

Wednesday: Practising music 

Two of my after children have autism and music really helps them to relax their minds. I find that it helps them to stay calm, it’s their time to reflect and sit down and do something productive for themselves. We have an area at home that we call the ‘relaxing area,’ where they can play the guitar. I used to have to encourage them to practice at home, now they do so every day. My husband also goes to the relaxing area and plays the guitar with them. My older foster son has piano lessons at school. They are very creative children.  

Thursday: Going for a coffee with a fellow foster carer 

I meet other foster carers weekly for a coffee, sometimes in a group, sometimes one-to one. I find that it is important to talk about our experiences and support each other. We are able to talk freely and openly, and we learn from one another. Fostering is not always easy; it can be difficult at times, but it is always rewarding.  

Friday: Attending a peer support group session 

The Waltham Forest Fostering Service organises peer support groups. They provide a space, or the meetings are held online. These are beneficial to me as I’m able to learn, and give and receive support from other foster carers. Sometimes we’ll have external guests speak to us or give us training.  

Saturday: Baking a cake 

We made a cake for two of my foster son’s birth mum today. She has been unwell and recently left hospital.  We really enjoyed making it and decorating it together. We took her flowers and a card with the cake. She (mum) was so surprised and happy. Not all children in foster care can see their birth parents but my sons are able to quite often with supervision.  

Cooking helps foster children to develop their life skills and become more independent. My older son is now able to cook, tidy his bedroom and save his money. He is ready to move on when the time comes.  

Sunday: A walk-in nature/spending time outdoors 

I often go for a walk-in nature with my foster children, especially my younger one. When he first came to live with us, he really missed his birth parents, and our walks were a chance for him to speak about his family. Whilst he is much more settled now, we have continued this tradition as it refreshes the mind. Now, he sometimes says to me ‘let’s go for a walk and get some fresh air’ as he knows how beneficial it can be. 

Final thoughts 

I enjoy fostering, sometimes I look back and can’t believe how far I have come. My aim was to help children and fostering is a dream come true. As a foster carer I ‘change hats’ all the time. It is demanding but it makes me happy. You can’t take things too personally when young people do not behave how you would wish them to. We discuss issues and share expectations with our young people, we also give them time and space to reflect. I look forward to the positives and I am proud of all my foster children.  

Do you think could you be a foster carer like Shqiponja, and have an amazing impact on the lives of children in Waltham Forest?