The Skills to Foster training is a three day course (but four at this time!) that all foster carer applicants must attend. It focuses on the day-to-day skills foster carers will need and shows them the challenges that they may face and offers the skills and techniques that they can use. In Islington we like to get the foster carers involved in helping to deliver training along side the recruitment team. Foster carer Maggie has kept a diary of her first experience as one of the trainers.

Day 1

Over coffee and croissants I meet and greet our candidates, all of whom seem lovely. After introductions they connect very quickly and soon start forming friendships, I was starting to feel nervous but carried on focusing on the job in hand.

During my section I tell a positive story. Everyone was to hear from my experiences. I explain my placement arrived angry, speaking no English and was scared and completely bewildered. The young man has against all odds, attended school, moved onto a college course, is confident, happy and a very caring person. I explained that this is our reward and the how proud they will feel when their young person forms attachments with you.

Day 2

Today I was feeling quite nervous as delivering the training programme is still new to me. My responsibilities today were around exploring contact and how important it is for the child to maintain contact with their family where possible. I explained that it is not the foster carer’s role to be judgemental in any way of the parent. I gave example of when a parent has brought clothes for their child to wear. The next contact date I would encourage the child to wear the outfit if they would like. For me as a carer it’s about forming positive relationships with everyone involved in the support or caring of the child.

Day 3

Today I felt more confident and positive about my role in the training. We had a fun musical chair activity about the difficulties felt about behaviours a child may show whilst in care and how that makes you feel and react. I explain the importance of recognising and responding positively to a child showing challenging behaviour. We stress the importance of using positive behaviour strategies and gaining support of social workers and foster carer meetings as all our children at some time will show some of these behaviours.

In the afternoon I shared another positive story about my experiences. A young person in my care hadn’t come home and it was getting late but I kept calm. I phoned and left a voicemail telling the young person I was worried about their safety and that they would not be in trouble if they made contact. I could support them to get home safely and that I would be happy to see them. This led to the young person getting back to me and arriving home safely.

Day 4

The last day of training, it had come around quick! Today I focused on keeping memories safe as we want every child to make positive memories whilst in our care. I explain this can be done easily by just being aware, collecting photos, tickets, awards and school reports. When they move on they can see the good times and achievements they have made, allowing them to reflect on their time living with their foster family positively.

I think all the attendees have built friendships, shared experiences and fully embraced the training experience. I was very excited to be invited as a facilitator and the training team supported me and made me feel I was a valued member of the team which really helped build my confidence as the programme progressed. I would certainly urge other experienced foster carers to get involved in training possible future foster carers as it is a positive experience for all involved.