The joys — and the challenges — of fostering under lockdown29th May 2020
Sharon Hawkins and her partner Ciaran live in North Belfast and have been fostering with HSC Foster Care for the past year and are foster carers for 5 year old Daniel*. In the relatively early stages of her fostering journey, here Sharon shares what life is like with a young child at home during lockdown.
“When I was younger I always had it in my head that I would look after other people. I met my partner Ciaran around 8 years ago and early on I told him that I would like to become a foster carer. I would have been anxious about doing this on my own but I did meet a lot of single people at the HSC fostering training courses so it is possible.
“Every person who becomes a HSC Foster Carer has to go through an assessment process. The assessment was quite an in depth look at our life including our own childhoods, our relationship and our health. I didn’t find the assessment process challenging. Most of the questions concerned the safety of any child that would be in our care so those questions were easy to answer.
“At the moment I am working in retail and have been furloughed due to Covid-19 though I imagine I will have to adapt again to new circumstances in the next few weeks. When I began fostering last year, my employer was fantastic, very supportive. I would also say that our HSC social worker really worked hard with us to consider our jobs and routine and the circumstances of a child that would come into our care – it has been a really good ‘match’.
“Before the current lockdown, Daniel had regular physical contact and time with his birth parents. He would see his birth parents a few times a week. It’s difficult now that can’t happen but he has virtual video calls with his mummy and daddy now instead.
“With the Covid crisis, Daniel is now at home full time with me rather than at school. He is an active little boy with lots of energy. Myself and Ciaran and Daniel take lots of walks together and he gets out on his bike too. Plenty of healthy eating, lots of water and a good night’s sleep for all of us are the key to success at the moment.
“With fostering some days are hard but most of the time it is great. I always try to spread the word that fostering is a great thing to do and it is very, very worthwhile.”
*Daniel’s name has been changed to protect his identity.