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“We have a home full of laughter”

Have you ever thought about becoming a foster carer and looking after children who cannot live with their own families?

Dave and Jackie are foster parents in the West Midlands. They have been fostering for just under a year and want more people to recognise how rewarding it is to see a young person making progress thanks to their care and support.

Why did you want to become a foster carer?

Jackie: I enjoyed parenting and raising our own children and wanted to give something back by making a difference to another child who didn’t have the same advantages as my own family. We already knew people who were foster carers so thought we would give it a go.

Dave: We were excited by the opportunity to a give a child a good start in life, which unfortunately not all young people get. We want them to reach their full potential and don’t want the past to dictate their future. Also, we want them to feel comfortable and part of our home, not like they live in an institution. Our background in education meant we wanted to give children skills they can use to do well in school and the rest of their lives, so that they can make a worthwhile contribution to society as adults.

Is fostering like you expected it to be?

Jackie: Some of it is! When we had our initial training, the team prepared us for the highs and lows, but until you start looking after a child you don’t quite know how it will go. It’s full of surprises, rewarding and makes you feel good. Some days you worry if you’re doing it right, but we are learning all the time.

Dave: It’s very challenging but it’s so rewarding as well. No two days are the same – you have no idea what the day will bring when you wake up the following day. If I was to give any tips it would be to start every day as a new day, leaving the baggage of yesterday behind.

What have been some of your favourite fostering moments?

Jackie: Doing things as a family and being a family unit, especially during the coronavirus lockdown. Yes, a child can be frustrated and angry but it’s great to see her smile and come to us for a hug. I’m glad to share moments with her, like celebrating her birthday and when she learnt to ride a bike.

Dave: We have a home full of laughter. Even in the short time we have been fostering we have seen growth, development and progress in our child. No matter how small that progress might be, it’s a blessing when we compare what she can do now compared to what she could do before. Seeing her pick up a new skill like riding a bike is something she can use every day and she has grown in confidence. You never forget these rights of passage.

How are you supported by St Christopher’s to care for young people?

Dave: The whole team at St Christopher’s has been ever so helpful. The strong support from our social worker is valuable, her tips are very helpful. Monthly support groups for foster carers are also good as we can meet other foster families to share experiences and hear how they moved past challenges. The training has also been beneficial and I’m looking forward to doing more of it.

Jackie: We have a monthly consultation with St Christopher’s therapist, who offers practical tips. Therapeutic parenting is different from how you might have brought up your own child, so the therapist helps us to understand the situation from the child’s perspective. Her advice works well, like when she suggested using a visual timetable with pictures to help our child understand time and the structure of the day. Having this support helps us adapt to our child’s needs.

What would you say to someone thinking about becoming a foster carer?

Dave: If you want to do something to make a difference and give someone a second chance then becoming a foster carer is an ideal way to make a difference, but remember you do not do it for short-term gain but for long-term rewards.

Jackie: We are still very new to fostering but the rewards outweigh the challenges. It’s hard work but you can see light at the end of the tunnel when you see how you are making a difference and other people, like school and other supportive agencies see it too.

If you would like to learn more about fostering? Enquire with us today to request a call back from a member of our friendly fostering team.