Positivity, Praise, Pups and Parrots

A couple who foster teenagers have shared their Top Tips for fostering success – with being positive and praising progress top of the list.

Somerset County Council husband-and-wife foster parents, Eve, 45, and Matt, 41, originally from Birmingham and Dorset, have been married for 10 years. They live near Wellington with Eve’s daughter Sophie, 25, two dogs, Clifford and Gus, and their talkative parrot Bella.

crop Eve and Matt for somerset newsroom

This Fostering Friday (20 November) the energetic pair is sharing their insights into why they so enjoy and advocate fostering teenagers. Eve and Matt have been fostering teenagers non-stop for nearly six years and “absolutely love it”.

The Council seeks ordinary people who can offer a safe, stable home to a child over 10, or a teenager who are unable to live with their birth families. These children and young people may have complex circumstances, experienced abuse or neglect, or have parents unable to care for them. They need enthusiastic, resilient and supportive foster carers or foster families to be there for them.

Eve says: “Both my and Matt’s backgrounds are completely different, and we feel we have been through a lot in our own personal circumstances. I was brought up with quite a lot of domestic violence around me. I was in women’s refuges, and went to five secondary schools.

“I can really relate to the children, and what it’s like to have nothing, so I can deal with it and a lot of things that crop up. There’s always something new that comes to the table when it comes to fostering young people, but nothing fazes us.”

Matt adds: “We can relate to most circumstances the children have found themselves in. A lot of children who have come into care, we find, haven’t got father figures. I’ve not seen my dad for 23 years, so I can talk to them about it, which helps them open up about their own situations.”

Their parrot Bella is a crucial part of their fostering dynamic, with her chirpy exclamations helping to break the ice when a nervous young addition to the household arrives (even singing and dancing along to ‘Always Look on the Bright Side of Life’). Golden retrievers Clifford and Gus, meanwhile, offer the young people a soppy source of comfort when they need it. And “Sophie is really good with the kids too,” says Eve, “she’s like a big sister to them.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bella the parrot

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Clifford the Golden retriever

Here are Eve and Matt’s Twelve Top Tips for people thinking of fostering teens:

  • Always focus on the positives, not the negatives
  • Praise the young people for the smallest thing
  • Expect the unexpected!
  • Have a good support network of friends or family around you
  • Don’t expect to change your children overnight
  • Don’t judge them. But do expect to attend lots of meetings, especially at the beginning of a placement
  • Expect the dynamic of your life to change
  • Expect to get calls in the middle of the night
  • Take things in your stride, don’t panic
  • Tell your foster children to have a safe, calm, positive and successful day
  • Be consistent with your boundaries, but understand that every child is different.
  • And last but not least – enjoy it!

Click here for Eve and Matt’s full interview: www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk/interview-with-eve-and-matt-we-prefer-fostering-teenagers/

To find out more about fostering with Somerset County Council, visit www.fosteradoptsomerset.org.uk or phone 0800 5879900. Or come to our next information event on Monday 7 December, 7pm-9pm, at the Wessex Hotel in Street, BA16 0EF.