The first steps I took into becoming a foster carer were very daunting.

I was nervous and hesitant. Afraid of being told I was not good enough. People had previously advised me how immaculate my home had to be, how my dog would be too noisy, and I couldn’t foster because I didn’t have thousands of pounds in savings. It’s easy to believe people. The world is full of overconfident, assuming individuals.

The advice I would give you is to stop listening to them. Collate the correct information, do your own research and reach a decision that suits you.

My first contact was with Barrie, Calon Cymru’s Recruitment Manager. We chatted for nearly two hours. He made me feel at ease, the conversation flowed; there were no embarrassing silences. He gave me more information than I had imagined.

Barrie didn’t sugar coat everything. I felt he was being honest and wasn’t trying to bully me into signing my life away. I was given the opportunity to speak to another foster carer. He explained his experiences, the upset, the heartbreak, but lit up when talking about the rewards such as simple life-changing milestones for Fostered Children like improving their personal hygiene.

When Barrie came to assess my home, and talk further with my partner and daughter, the house was still under renovation. This didn’t seem to worry him.  We had plans in place and a sort of finish date. The most important room, being the Childs bedroom. This room was going to become their safe place. 

Foster Carer's home being redecorated

The following weeks the spare bedroom was a priority. When decorating, you must consider many aspects. You don’t know who is going to be walking through your front door. The décor must be gender neutral and suitable for a wide age group. The room needs to be welcoming, friendly but minimalist.  As parents we want to spoil our children, however, when a young person walks into a room for the first time, they don’t need to feel claustrophobic, surrounded by clutter. The young person needs to feel safe. They need to feel this room is theirs. They don’t want to feel like a number.

Foster Child's toy box

I keep toy boxes suitable for different age groups in a spare room. I wish someone had told me to be mindful of cost. Unfortunately, things do get damaged and sometimes intentionally. You’re not being tight or ungenerous, you’re being realistic.

Over the coming weeks or months, relationships will form. This is when I start to encourage décor change. Get the young person involved. Ask their opinions and what they want.  Never show surprise.  You will be asked some shockers! Compromise. The young person will need guidance to express themselves, allow it to happen.  

As a foster carer, the size of your heart, your stickability and how well you match is far more important than a room full of stuff. 

Blog written by: Erin Rose*

*Foster Carer’s name has been changed for privacy reasons.