The view from foster care
“A stable home life has helped me develop into the person that I am today. What I have done at school is largely down to my foster parents”Jaz – 18 from Humberston
Jaz, an 18-year-old from Humberston who has been in the care of foster parents for 13 years has told how her “stable home life” has helped her towards a successful academic career and one that has led her to a university education.
Keen to shake off the stereotype that foster children are “naughty”, Toll Bar Academy 6th form student Jaz has said that without the support of her foster parents, she “wouldn’t be where I am today”.
Jaz, who is hoping to get the grades necessary to study at Leeds Beckett University in September, has lived with her foster parents Sue and Ray since 2003, after her mum struggled to cope with looking after her and her two siblings, and put them up for care before fleeing to live in Australia.
Thirteen happy years down the line, Jaz has said that a stable home life has been the key to her living a “normal” childhood. She said: “I just think of it as an ordinary way of living. I’m not different because I’ve been fostered it’s just a different way of living and it’s been a happy home life.
“A stable home life has helped me develop into the person that I am today. What I have done at school is largely down to my foster parents and if I was still with my mum, I don’t think I’d be where I am today.
“I get treated like a part of the family and haven’t been separated or anything. I’ve been cared for like I’m their daughter and they would do for me what they would do for their own son.”
With it widely being reported that there is a national shortage of foster parents, Jaz added that taking on the role is a “great opportunity” to help change a young person’s life.
She said: “I’ve heard of people having bad experience with foster parents but this has been the best thing for me. I’m proof that the system does work.
“I’ve got a lot to thank my foster parents for because without them I wouldn’t have done as well academically. They really have been a mother and father figure for me”.
“Being a foster parent is an amazing chance to really help someone and get a lot of good outcomes for themselves.”
The view from our carers
Watch these videos for the views of our carers on the experience of becoming a foster carer and how fostering a child changes lives.
You can also read the stories of some of our foster carers to find out about who they are and what their experiences of fostering have been so far.
Foster carers Jane and Sally are long-term Foster Carers who foster one little boy with disabilities
We wanted to foster partly because Jane’s parents have a child in a long term foster placement, and it has been amazing to see the progress that has been made in the child’s life. (however, prior to this, Jane had always thought that fostering would be something she would like to do).
Following our civil partnership, we really wanted the next step of family life. Obviously we were unable to have children naturally, and we had considered adoption. However, because we have worked supporting adults with learning disabilities to increase their independence and skills, and because learning disabilities have always been a part of our personal lives, we felt that it was a natural path for us to look after a child with a learning disability. Due to the extra emotional support that can be sought through fostering, we chose this route rather than adoption, as obviously a child with a learning disability can present a lot of extra challenges!
We found that the thought of the assessment process was much more daunting than actually going through it! The link workers were, and are, really approachable and friendly, and have given lots of advice and encouragement. As a gay couple, we were a little worried at first about how we might be perceived, but right from the start we were welcomed as “a family” who were interested in fostering, rather than just prospective carers.
Since we began fostering last March, our lives have been transformed!
We thought that we were pretty prepared, but we are still learning so much, both about the little boy in our care, and about life as foster carers, every day. Our home has been full of laughter, tears, and pride and we would never want it any other way.
Julie and John have been fostering for ten years and particularly chose to provide long term placements for sibling groups
Julie and John have cared for one sibling group of three until they reached adulthood and now are caring for a second sibling group of two, a brother and sister.
When we decided to train to become foster carers, I think we both thought that it would be caring for just one or maybe two children at the most. Then we happened to see an article in a newspaper about a sibling group that were going to be separated because there was a shortage of foster carers in that area who were prepared to take on a larger group. It was quite upsetting to read, not only were they being taken into care, but they were being separated from each other. I happened to mention the article to the social worker who was taking us through our training and she asked us to think about it.
There are some challenges to caring for siblings groups. The sheer number of people in the house, the noise (at times) and activity, trying to give each child some one to one attention, trying to remember each child’s after school activities and sorting out squabbles.
However, there are also many positives, knowing that you’re helping to keep them together, watching them grow and have fun together.
We have found that sibling groups tend to settle more easily as they have each other for comfort, to talk to and share things with in the early days.
I would tell anyone thinking of caring for a sibling group that it is hard work but very rewarding.
Try and be as organised as you can.
Try and remember to save some time for each other.
Accept help and advice from your link worker.
Bethany and Teresa do a mixture of long-term and short term fostering
As a lesbian couple we were initially worried that we would be scrutinised and discriminated against. However we’ve not found this to be the case at all. We have been treated with the same standards that any heterosexual couple has been.
Fostering has enriched our lives, it’s brought us many new friends and challenges. As well as some amazing children whom have touched our hearts and will remain in our hearts for many years after they have left.
If fostering or adoption is something you’ve ever considered I’d most certainly get in touch, it’s the most amazing thing to do in the world.
Providing a child with a forever family or being part in a child’s path to finding there forever family is the most rewarding thing in the whole wide world to do.
Julie specialises in fostering sibling groups
I have been fostering sibling groups for over twenty years. I really enjoy caring for young groups of children and moving them on to their adoptive families.
I never made a conscious decision to foster a sibling group. However, I was approached as the children came into care, and found I particularly enjoyed this and I did not like to think of children being separated as they have also been separated from their parents.
Some of the challenges have been managing sibling rivalry which is to be expected but can be more significant with children who have had difficult upbringings. Sometimes this is not manageable and the decision is made to separate the children. Although this may be for the children’s best interests, I do find this hard.
There are positive times as the children will have an opportunity to do things together and have good memories of their time as children with their brothers and sisters. When in a safe and secure placement children have the opportunity to develop close bonds with each other, which will last a life time. Practically, it is easier caring for siblings rather than for children from separate families as they all go to contact together and have the same meetings, appointments and so on.
I would say that although challenging there are many rewards in fostering. I am still in contact with the many children that I have helped move to their new families who are very happy.
Samantha provides both long term care for children as well as moving children on for adoption
I wanted to be a foster carer as my children were growing up and I wanted to help and bring up foster children as they have not had in their lives warmth, love and boundaries.
I went to panel and the people on the panel were very nice. I would recommend doing it to anyone who wants to be a foster carer as it is lovely to see the children develop in your care and is very rewarding to see the children go the right way in life.
I have been fostering for 11 years and they are the best years I have ever done. Social workers and link workers are all lovely people, don’t be afraid to find out what fostering is all about, I think it is wonderful to be a foster carer.
Fostering and adoption, Civic Offices, Knoll Street, Cleethorpes, North East Lincolnshire, DN35 8LN
Telephone: 01472 323966
Opening times: Monday to Friday 9am to 4:30pm, except bank holidays