My Name is Leah Austin, I’m 50yrs old, I live alone and I have been working as a foster carer with Progress since May 2021.
So, after applying to Progress I began to quickly realise that it was not just a case of applying, they assess you and you get a child. No, they guide you through a much more thorough process to ensure that when you go to the panel to get approved you are totally prepared for what the role entails. Going through this process also enables you to understand more about what is needed from a foster carer and all the types of referrals that are out there waiting to be supported. I was given several choices of the type of placement I would like to provide, from mother & baby, emergency care, full-time fostering with children from 2yr up to the age 18yr with or without special needs, disability or learning difficulties or provide respite and short breaks for children and young people from the already mentioned. I decided that respite & short breaks were the care placement I wanted to provide as I also have a job in an SEN school and wish to continue this role until I retire. Then I would consider full-time fostering.
It’s so refreshing to see a different side to children in a home situation, they can interact differently, communicate more confidently and see them happy and relaxed to be able to do life skills more independently has been amazing.
I have found that parents/carers of children in care are under enormous stress and the little support they do get is very much welcomed by them. Whether it is one night per month or a short break it gives the family time to recuperate, refocus or get some much-needed sleep to enable them to continue taking care of the child.
I decided to opt to work for progress when they posted an advert on Facebook, I replied as I had done to other fostering companies in the past but this time, I got a prompt reply and so they say, the rest is history.
From the very start of the process, I felt fully supported and guided throughout, with such professionalism and organised realistic expectations of me during the assessment phase and that support continues right up to today, now I care for 6 children who regularly visit me each month. I do not have any birth children living at home but if I did then that would be taken into consideration by Progress when matching children to me. The children I have are of different ages, sex, and abilities all with their own individual needs for which I provide respite/short breaks catered to parents’/carers’ requirements.
Initially, I will either get a phone call or email about a referral of a child that needs support, I will look through the referral information to ascertain whether I feel I can provide care for them and respond to my supervising social worker. If I want to go ahead then I will receive some more detailed information about the child including a safer caring plan, individual risk assessments and information about the child’s needs, disabilities, behaviours, and medications, this gives me a fuller picture of the child. My social worker will then contact the parent/carer or their social worker to arrange a telephone call with me or an introductory visit at my home. I then get the chance to ask any other questions I may have about the child.
There is some flexibility for when I have the children stay with me. This is organised between myself and the parent/carer, usually during the introduction visit or by telephone call. In the future, I am available to discuss each child’s visit with the parent/carer and they can inform me of any changes, improvements, or other information at drop-off/collection time.
I currently only have space for one child at a time due to my living situation however if that changed then I could be open to taking on siblings. As a respite/short break carer I am only allowed to care for one child or sibling group per stay as we must consider the possibility of bullying, anxiety, challenging behaviours, and risks that could be a cause for concern. However, if I chose to change the provision that I wanted to provide then my supervising social worker would get this approved for me and I could do long-term foster placements which would allow me more than one child at a time if I had the room, as they are treated more like a member of your own family with numerous siblings as long as they have their own room for different sexes or if appropriate same sex can be together in a bed of their own.
Finally, the financial support is provided weekly and is tax-free for each child you have in placement, there are other opportunities to top up your finances with Progress care, whether it’s writing occasional blogs for websites, flyers or taking on other roles within the company it is an amazing company to work for and I have loved every moment which just encourages me to want to do more for children in need of care and support
I’M PROGRESS CARE
A Service You Can Trust
The Best Care for Your Child
OVERNIGHT RESPITE & SHORT BREAKS
I understand the importance of caring for your children in a safe and effective way. With all of the services I provide, you can rest assured that your children are in good hands.
I make it a priority to provide stimulating and inviting environments for all of my children in placement with me. With all of my previous experience in SEN with children and adults, parents & carers stay calm whenever they leave their children in my care. As an experienced foster carer, I am here to provide the quality care your children deserve.
Teatime introductory visits
Years of experience have made it clear that parents often need a quality carer who can understand the needs of their children. I do my best to accommodate all of the children’s needs, whether they are children with sensory needs, those that require a routine to prevent meltdowns, or those who require a specific way to communicate, I am confident I can accommodate all and like to offer teatime introductory visits to the child and parent/carer until they are comfortable with me to have them stay overnight. This gives the parent/carer the opportunity to ask questions and see how their child interacts with their new surroundings and me.