“The support I received from my social worker and the team was invaluable.”
Julie has spent her working life in social care. “I’d been working as a manager for a number of years, spending more and more time on call, working long hours and becoming disillusioned. I wanted to do something different.”
“I started to do some research and found Fostering People. I gave them a call and had a visit within a week. During the visit I found that I could be paid for being a foster carer and this changed my outlook as it would enable me to stop work and foster full time.”
Julie’s experience with adults gave her the right skills to look after older children and teenagers. “I received many phone calls once I was approved, putting me forward for a number of different placements,” Julie recalls. “These were mainly siblings, as I have two spare bedrooms. But my first placement was Claire who came to me just before her twelfth birthday.
‘I’ll never forget the first time she came into the house – she’d had eight previous foster placements and was full of attitude. My heart went out to her the moment she arrived looking very unkempt and with just a carrier bag of belongings. That afternoon I took her to the local supermarket and asked her to choose the bread and yoghurt that she preferred. This was new to Claire as she’d never chosen for herself before.
“In the evening, the reality of fostering hit me. Having not had children of my own, when Claire went to bed, I realised there was a child in the house and that I was responsible for her. Claire had a history of absconding so I locked the doors and took the keys to bed with me. I really didn’t sleep very well those first few nights.”
In the two years Julie has been fostering, she’s experienced both its joys and challenges. Claire remained with Julie for nineteen months and a planned moved home to mum and dad was underway. A challenging teenager, Claire’s background had made her angry and she could be aggressive and verbally abusive. Julie appreciated the support she received from Fostering People.
“As a single carer for Claire, I’ve used the out-of-hours support service a lot and got to know the team really well. It’s great having all that there when you need it. I think I also used the support more than a couple would as they can talk things through together. So being able to speak to a member of staff is really helpful. I’ve got a great social worker and have a really open and honest relationship with him. During Claire’s placement the support I received from him and the team was invaluable.”
Alongside fostering Claire, Julie also fostered Summer, a one-year-old toddler who was placed just a month after Claire and presented a very different challenge. Summer had no routine and was overweight. “Before Summer was placed, I went shopping for nappies and clothes for a one-year-old. It was a complete waste as none of it fitted and I was quite shocked when I saw her.’
Summer has been with Julie for over eighteen months and has come on leaps and bounds. She is really proud of her bedroom with Peppa Pig taking pride of place and a beautiful little photo of her with her mum in the window.
Adoption was identified as an opportunity for Summer and her mum was very supportive of Julie’s application to become her adoptive parent. “I never expected to have such a young child placed with me and I believe it was fate. I never for a moment thought that fostering would result in me becoming a mum.”