If you want to know what fostering is really like, a good way to find out is to learn from existing foster carers. Here's what some of our foster carers have to say about their fostering journeys.
Ann, 53, from Canvey Island, has been a full-time foster carer with Quality Foster Care for six years, having started in 2004 so she could work alongside raising her own two daughters, Joy and Polly. She currently cares for a teenage girl, and during her 13 years as a carer, Ann has opened her home to 59 other vulnerable children and young people.
Reflecting on her experience as a single foster carer, Ann says:
“I had no idea that you could be a foster carer if you’re single but I’m so glad I looked into it. Being single has given me the time to help so many young people, from a variety of different backgrounds, from young children to older teens. I’ve been able to support asylum-seeking children as they adapt to life in the UK and it’s been such a rewarding experience.
“Being a single carer means I’ve only had females in my home, it’s been just me, my daughters and my foster children. So, I’ve been able to support young girls who have experienced various traumas, helping them to heal. The comprehensive support available through Quality Foster Care has meant I’m well trained for this and am confident in my abilities to support children who have experienced all kinds of trauma.
“To anyone considering becoming a single foster carer, I strongly encourage you to check it out. I’ve been so lucky in that I have a wonderful support network around me; my friends and family have been incredible. The support workers at Quality Foster Care go above and beyond to let you know they are always there to call on, if you need any help, never be afraid to ask.”
We want people to know that someone’s marital or relationship status, gender, sexuality, religion or ethnicity does not stop them providing excellent care to a child in need. Fostering comes in many forms and can be tailored towards the needs and lifestyle of the foster parent, or parents, and those in their care. Foster carers can work flexibly as respite or short-term foster carers, or they can have foster children and young people living with them long-term, meaning they would remain in care until they feel ready to live independently.
John spent more than 20 years as facilities manager at an insurance broker, and now fosters full-time alongside his role as a parish priest at his local church. He fosters with his wife, who works full-time as a nurse in occupational health.
In their seven years as foster carers, the couple have provided a home for a total of nine children and young people, with three of those still living with them today.
Speaking about the benefits of taking the career change leap, John says:
“There’s no greater feeling than knowing what is technically your job, means you’re helping people at their most vulnerable, find safety, security and a place to grow into the people that they have the potential to become. I like to call myself a professional parent because we love and care so much for those boys living with us while at the same time recognising the need for professional self-discipline and practice.”
Having three boys in their care who are all now young adults means that the family make sure they spend lots of time together around their work and college commitments.
“We sit down for dinner together every single evening and discuss our days, what’s going on in the world and all sorts. We also have movie nights watching a film together over a pizza and we do other things as a family including outings and family holidays.
“Everyone gets on extremely well, and the younger boys look up to the older lad who travelled alone from a repressive country, they’re quite in awe of him. We’re proud to see our eldest foster son as a fantastic role model for them both as they are aware of how much he had to overcome in his journey to the UK and the strength of character he has shown to become the man he is."
“The boys who live with us now, as well as some who have moved onto the next stage of their lives, are now an integral part of our family. They are treated as such by both our extended family and friends who are also part of our fostering journey. It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child, and our extended family and support network of friends form that village for these youngsters.”
John is a brilliant foster carer who has been with us for many years now. It’s an honour to see him as such an integral part of his community, and how he feels that fostering has really complemented his existing work with young people. He’s also a great example of someone who has left behind his traditional nine-to-five to follow new career paths. It’s lovely to have a role model in a male foster carer and we hope that his story might inspire others to consider making the same change he did.