The Foster Care Fortnight 2024 (13-26 May) theme is #FosteringMoments – celebrating the moments that define fostering journeys, big and small. Join us between May 13-26 to celebrate these fostering moments and reflect on the experience. In this blog post, Bill Yuksel, our Head of Not for Profit Appointments, shares some of his most important fostering moments.

A moment for me

As a Kinship Foster Carer, I had a unique insight into the children I have provided care for, as I already knew them. However, I had not seen them in about 5 years, and they were still very young then. Genuinely, I did not know if they would remember who I was.

The first moment I saw the children, they ran up, hugged me and put all my fears to rest. Not only did they remember who I was, but they also remembered all the trips I had taken them on previously and even the gifts I had brought them for Christmas.

“I had made a brave decision to step up and help, and it all happened very quickly.”

Hearing that the children remembered who I was and how I impacted them gave me the comfort I needed to know I had made the right decision.

A moment for my nephew

Prior to coming into my care, my nephew had only left the local area on a handful of occasions. When we are in new places with lots of people, he can get a little anxious and sometimes uses ear defenders to help him keep calm. Despite this, he is very adventurous and loves travelling and discovering places he has never visited.

Over the past year, he has become really interested in football and started to follow West Ham United. For Christmas last year, I got him a ticket to his first-ever game.

I was worried that the stadium would be a little too crowded and noisy for him, with 50k+ fans and a busy shopping centre to get through before the game, but he navigated it all fantastically and really enjoyed his day.

To my surprise, he joined in with all the chants and singing in the stadium and didn’t bother with his ear defenders either.

He had been saving up his pocket money for a while prior and was able to buy himself a kit from the club store and have his name printed on it. Needless to say, he was delighted with himself.

“Personally, I was really proud of him for how he had managed to build his confidence and was willing to put himself out of his comfort zone to gain new experiences.”

As a former West Ham season ticket holder, I loved sharing this experience with him and hope that we will be able to go again in the near future. Sadly, the game was a draw, but hey, you don’t support West Ham for the glory!

A moment of reflection

Whilst Foster Care Fortnight is about celebrating moments big and small, the theme is also about considering what provides stability – I have been reflecting on that too.

One of the children I provided care for has been reunited with a parent. I am happy for them and hope this is a successful outcome.

But this has been hard to come to terms with as the situation happened after a really positive few months and in the run-up to a holiday we were all excited about. The change was sudden and unexpected, and I am still unsure why.

It’s made me reflect on the amount of trauma that many young people in care have experienced and how this can manifest itself. It also surprised me how quickly seemingly stable placements can destabilise, which I’d heard from other foster carers and professionals within the local authority.

Interestingly, I’ve found that the support for me as a Foster Carer has been more than I expected – an excellent group of people who support me personally, a supportive employer, financial support, access to a social worker and access to a specialist child psychologist to help me understand some of the behaviours I have seen.

Sadly, and I can only speak of my own experience — this level of support is not extended to children. I had been advocating for robust support for the children I cared for prior to them being placed with me. I feel it arrived too late and not to a good enough standard. Seeing the situation that unfolded felt preventable. It has reinforced my personal opinions that the level of therapeutic support and intervention provided for care experienced young people is failing some of the most vulnerable young people in the country.

“This experience has reminded me that whilst we are celebrating, we should not lose sight of how precarious the situation is for many young people in care and, indeed, for those providing care too.”

When the time is right, I will be thinking about how to use this experience to influence greater change moving forward.

Reflecting on my employer

This experience mentioned above was the most challenging experience in my life to date. It’s worth saying that my employer, Peridot Partners, was fantastic through this situation, as were my clients.

My manager was supportive and understanding, gave me the autonomy to take as much time and space as needed, and offered to pick up anything I needed to withdraw from. As Peridot being a Fostering-Friendly employer, I used some of the additional entitlement to annual leave they provided to navigate the situation. This was the first time I’ve used the additional leave entitlement, and whilst I’m sure Peridot would have given me the leave anyway, it was nice to know that it was there without asking.

My annual review was due to take place at this time; I’d had a really positive few years and was hoping to discuss targets for a promotion. I was worried the situation might affect my prospects. A cynical employer could have viewed the situation and considered it as not being the right time. I was relieved this was not the case, and not only did we discuss a promotion, but Peridot felt I was ready – I was promoted that day.

To me, this was an excellent endorsement of the inclusive culture at Peridot and how they haven’t just signed up to be a Fostering-Friendly employer but actively live this.

For me, it’s never been about the extra annual leave a Fostering-Friendly employer provides, though this helps. It’s always been about the commitment to being an inclusive employer – understanding the commitment of being a foster carer and that you might have to divert your attention to deal with fostering matters urgently.

For those interested in the scheme, you can sign up here.

Kinship also offers a Kinship friendly employer scheme, which you can sign up for here.

Bill Yuksel is our Head of Not for Profit Appointments, with over 35 CEO appointments across England, Wales and Scotland. With a true passion for social change and a drive to match motivated candidates with organisations where they can make a difference, please email Bill or connect with him on Linkedin to find the leaders you need for your community foundation.