Tell us a bit about yourself and how does it feel to be an approved foster carer?
My name is Asma Chikhalia and I’m from East London. I am delighted to have been approved as a foster carer and am looking forward to having a wide range of placements including being the parent and baby placement. I had initially applied to become a foster carer but whilst being in the process I then had the opportunity to train as both a parent and baby carer.
Why did you want to become a foster carer?
I have always been very passionate about having a career in education and this stemmed from teaching in the London Borough of Newham for over 10 years. Part of my motivation to become a foster carer was due to the fact that I wanted to continue to work with children and young people by offering my knowledge, skills and home to support them in their life journey.
As a teacher and a parent to my own child; my resilience to see things through with children and determination to help them reach their full potential is something I was passionate about and could continue to transfer these skills to a foster child/ren.
Most importantly, I have space in my house that can provide stability for a child or children who need it; providing them with a warm, caring and supportive environment where they can feel welcomed and safe.
What type of support did you receive from Muslim Foster Network/My Foster Family?
From the onset, I have found Muslim Foster Network and My Foster Family to be the backbone to my journey and provide invaluable support.
When I had finally decided to become a foster carer, I did what most people would do and went on to Google! I was overwhelmed by the number of agencies, information, advertisements available and lack of direction.
I then came across Muslim Foster Network/My Foster Family on Facebook. It was almost like a one stop shop. I attended one of their seminars in London and left my details with them and their team took it from there.
They gave me relevant information, were able to answer my questions, referred me to a brilliant agency and most importantly I was always communicating with the same member of staff who encouraged me, checked in on me every now and then and supported me throughout the process from start to finish.
How do you find the process to becoming a foster carer?
For me, the most valuable part of this process has been the pace and personal attention to detail from both Annie Shafi from Muslim Foster Network/My Foster Family and my agency. I have become a carer during the pandemic and I know that the process has been slightly different (such as the social worker not coming to my house and training moved on to Zoom). But, despite all of this, I found that everyone involved was mindful of the current circumstances and insured they invested time in explaining each stage of the process to me as if we were face to face.
The process of becoming a carer does take time and completing the F2 form can be an emotional and a laborious process; but this is where the pace and support of MFF and my agency was crucial to successfully see me through the process.
What advice would you give to those who might be thinking about fostering?
If you hear a little voice within you telling you to do this, then please listen to it!
You will be helping so many children and young people who need you and most importantly you will be making a difference.
What is the best thing about foster caring?
You are making a difference to a child’s life regardless of their age, background, religion and ethnicity.
When you decide to make this commitment, you know that you will be faced with a wide range of challenges, but ultimately your passion and perseverance in supporting the child makes a huge difference to their life.
What your thoughts on foster caring being a means to positively transform a child’s life?
As a foster carer, teacher and a parent to my own child; I have a certain determination to help children reach their full potential.
I believe that by offering a child warmth, patience, care and support, this will help them in their emotional, physical and intellectual development and positively transform a child’s life. This will make a beautiful gift not only for yourself but for the child in your care who will be able to have the love and stability they deserve.