‘Home is where the heart is’ is a phrase which means more to some that you might realise. Over 4,500 children in Scotland are currently in foster care, and every 20 minutes another child in the UK enters the fostering system.

Some of these young people will have moved multiple times since coming into care, which can further compound their trauma. For those able to settle in their new home, it is the love of family and friends, and a feeling of belonging that allows them to enjoy a safe space, often for the first time in their lives.

Kibble, a specialist child and youth care charity, has a dedicated fostering service which is designed in partnership with young people to build a systemic family structure. This is made up of a network of people who know, love and care for the young person they care for. A large part of this comes from the tailored, no stone unturned approach Kibble takes to its training for carers, as well as when matching carers to a young person.

Nicole Dalziel has been at Kibble for seven years, with four of these working in the role of Family Placement Supervisor.

In this highly rewarding role, she has seen new families form and build strong family bonds. Responsible for the recruitment of carers, matching their qualities to that of the young person, and organising and implementing training for all carers, Nicole has a great oversight of everything and everyone within Kibble’s Fostering Service.

Here she speaks about the unparalleled level of training, support and resources foster carers at Kibble receive, and why she believes these all amount to giving young people in foster care, the best chance at life.

Nicole said: “Relationships are fundamental for everyone, especially for children and young people who need them to learn, develop and grow. At Kibble, everything comes back to this and what we’ve found is that by implementing a family structure around each young person, we are able to give them an array of relationships, each bringing something valuable and unique to the life of the person they care for.

“Foster carers, and key workers, tend to stay with Kibble longer than other organisations and that is down to the bond which they create with the young people, and with each other. We actively encourage foster carers to build relationships with everyone involved in the young person’s life, because it creates a network which reflects that of any other family. From parents to grandparents, to the fun auntie – these are the roles young people are seeking to fill within their lives.”

“I think it’s that sense of community that keeps carers at Kibble – it’s a family feel, and the support and encouragement carers receive from their peers and the team at Kibble is something which stands us apart from others in the sector. Our Family Placement Supervisors have a deliberately small number of young people to support compared to some fostering services, giving them a chance to really embed themselves into the lives of young people and the carer families.”

“Some foster families create a bond for life, and extended families play a key role in helping strengthen these family ties. For example, it’s commonplace within our fostering families for foster ‘grandparents’, aunties or uncles to step in to support the school run, shopping trip or enjoy a trip to the park. We make sure family members are supported to in step from time-to-time.”

“These seemingly day-to-day moments create a bank of positive memories and experiences for young people to take through life. In addition, they are also in place to provide a break for the foster parents when needed.”

“It is the trusted relationships which allow us to work collaboratively. We support each other and an important part of that is not being afraid to challenge decisions and ask questions – just like in a family. No one wakes up knowing how to do this – we are here to guide you and navigate the paths yet to be trodden. We all came into this sector because we all want to improve the life of young people, which at Kibble is the number one prerequisite for working with us.”

“To ensure our staff are equipped to support our young people, Kibble offers robust and comprehensive training and support. There is always someone on hand 24/7 every day of the year should a carer need support, or even just a listening ear.”

“The training programme is bespoke to each carer, adjusted and adapted to meet the training needs, and wants, of carers, as well as the specific skills they require to care for the young person they are supporting. Recently we have been increasing our efforts to find homes that can support brothers and sisters in an effort to keep families together.”

“Every child deserves a life filled with positive experiences, so our training, as well as the competitive salary we pay, which is above industry standard, are all anchored in helping carers be the best they possibly can.”

“It is essential that we provide a salary that allows carers to participate in a professional and whole-hearted manner while still allowing them to meet their financial commitments. In addition, it also provides the young person with the things they need, as well as offering them the opportunity to go out and enjoy experiences with friends, and family.”

“Home is where the heart is, and my work with young people in foster care has shown that more than anything. From my experience in the sector, I can tell you that home to them are the people who truly care for them and make them feel safe. Home is where they feel included, seen and heard. Home is where they can be themselves. Home is what we make it, together.”

To find out more about Kibble’s fostering Service and how to sign up to become a foster carer, visit: https://www.kibble.org/fostering.

Main photo (top of page): Nicole Dalziel, Family Placement Supervisor at Kibble
Photo Credit: Kibble Education & Care