'It's so nice': Call for more foster parents in Islington

Zinze Bishop, a foster carer in Islington. 

Zinze Bishop, a foster carer in Islington. - Credit: BBC News Wire

“Watching someone grow and change to become their own person and unfold and be their own person is just so nice,” said foster carer Angela Gash.

She is one of Islington’s foster carers who decided to take on the challenge of caring for a child in need of a foster home.

Islington is looking for more people to think about becoming foster carers and Ms Gash and her co-foster carer Amanda Davies urged people to think about it seriously.

They foster as best friends who are former partners and said that, although the selection process takes time, people don’t need to be scared of it.

“They are looking for how you resolved quite difficult situations. A lot of our children that come to us would have seen a lot of trauma and breakdown in relationships.”

Not surprisingly, foster carers go through a rigorous selection process, including an initial visit by a social worker before joining a preparation course.

Then prospective fosterers get checked out and a range of references are taken up, before a full assessment and an interview before a fostering panel of up to seven people from children’s services, education and health departments, plus councillors and an independent chairperson.

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Islington Council provides lots of training which covers a range of issues such as childhood trauma, autism and ADHD to help develop strategies to support the children.

The council holds fostering information sessions – with one online on Wednesday 8 June.

There are different types of foster carers – including short term and respite foster care, working to reunite children with their birth families and helping 16 to 21-year-olds as they transition to adulthood. There are also specialist fosterers, those caring for asylum-seeking children and specific age ranges.

They receive an allowance and fees to cover the daily costs of caring for a child and training, and are assigned a social worker.

Zinze Bishop, 36, became a foster carer when her son was nearly three. She was looking for an alternative to returning to an office job and had already done youth work at her church. A family member was also a special guardian so she had an idea what to expect.

She has cared for seven younger children in six years -the youngest a baby of just seven days and the oldest a child of seven.

“It’s challenging but rewarding,” she said.

To find out more, call 020 7527 7933 or email: fostering@islington.gov.uk