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“We knew nothing about fostering – but now we love it”

Foster Care Fortnight takes place every year and celebrates the amazing impact that foster carers have on young people’s lives.

Tina and her husband Darrell have been fostering with St Christopher’s for four years in Peterborough. Here, Tina shares their experiences of looking after young sibling groups.

Why did you decide to become a foster carer?

Darrell and I had always spoken about fostering but we were just waiting for the right time. Before fostering I worked as a child-minder for nine years and we have raised our own children, so between us we had a lot of experience and wanted to use this to help children who needed homes.

We waited until four of our five children were older before we started. Currently two of them still live at home, aged 13 and 26. Our children and extended family have been really supportive with it. They’ve been great with the young people we have looked after, especially the two that still live at home.

What did you look for in a fostering agency?

The main thing we wanted was an agency with lots of support. We saw an advert for St Christopher’s and liked that they were a charity. The Fostering Manager came to visit us and we got on fantastically – so it flowed from there! The training at St Christopher’s is really good and the staff are so easy to get along with.

How did you find the application process?

I thought it would be worse than it was. The staff have to ask lots of questions to make sure you are capable of being a good carer. They were really helpful and supportive throughout. Some of it makes you think about your own childhood too, so be prepared to talk about that.

Is fostering different to what you expected?

We hadn’t met any foster carers before so everything was a bit unknown, but we went into it very openly and chatted with carers at Skills to Foster training about their experiences. Since becoming a carer people have approached me saying they’re thinking of fostering. I always make sure they know there will be challenges, but it’s also really rewarding.

What’s been your stand out moment in fostering?

The last group of young people arrived with no boundaries and had very challenging behaviour. The oldest boy wasn’t in education when he first came, so we got him back into school and he had 100% attendance, which was a great achievement.

We made so much progress with the youngest girl – she said “I love being here and I feel part of the family.” When young people say things like that it makes you see how much of an impact you’re having, which is really rewarding. Fostering is definitely so much more fulfilling than child-minding!

Could you be a foster carer?