If you’ve made the big decision to become a long-term foster carer, congratulations! You’re embarking on a unique and meaningful journey. Foster carers open up their hearts and homes to provide stability, care and support to children in need. Your role will have challenges, but it also brings deep rewards.
Creating a record of your time as a foster carer benefits both you and the foster children. Documenting this special period and the progress made captures treasured memories to cherish. Looking back over photos, journals and formal reports allows you to see how much positive change has occurred thanks to the consistency and nurturing you offered. It also helps foster children make sense of their story.
Here are some great ways to document your fostering experience:
Keep a Diary/Journal
Keeping a personal journal is one of the best ways to record your long-term foster care journey. Set aside 10-15 minutes each day or week to write about your experiences. Note down any fostering “firsts”, funny moments, conversations and activities you enjoyed. Also, describe any struggles faced or emotional reactions. Journals help process thoughts and emotions. Rereading entries allows you to see personal growth and progress made by your foster children.
Take Many Photos
Pictures capture precious memories better than words can. Take photographs of outings, accomplishments and everyday moments with your foster children. Put up prints around your home as decorations. Compile photo books or make digital albums to look back on. If it is permitted, give copies of pictures from their time with you to foster children when they move on. Photos demonstrate the happy times they spent as part of your family.
Create Keepsake Storage
Use boxes or folders to keep meaningful mementos from your foster children’s time with you. Store items like artwork, written letters, schoolwork and craft projects. Ticket stubs, event programmes and certificates also capture accomplishments. Reviewing these keepsakes lets you remember activities, interests and developmental milestones. If it is appropriate, consider gifting boxes of special items to your foster children once they leave your care.
Communicate with Case Workers
Maintaining contact with social workers and other professionals involved is essential. Provide formal updates on the foster children’s progress, behaviours, health and any major events via phone, email or meetings. Positive reports help demonstrate children’s development thanks to proper care in a stable environment. Bring up any questions or issues promptly as well. Detailed communication provides useful records of growth and challenges overcome during a foster child’s time with you.
Create Life Books
“Life books” document a foster child’s history, background and time spent in the foster system through words, memorabilia and photographs. These provide a valuable record of their personal journey. Include details on their birth family, previous foster homes, important relationships, likes/dislikes, schooling, health info, family traditions and more. Having this reference helps foster children make sense of their unique life path. Add pages gradually and work on books collaboratively with children based on what they feel comfortable sharing.
Documenting your fostering journey benefits both you and the foster children you care for. Photos, journals, keepsakes and formal updates capture treasured memories, demonstrate developmental progress and record challenges overcome. Look back over these documents to see how much positive change has occurred thanks to the stability and care you provided as a long-term foster carer.