John and Yvonne's fostering story
After fostering for five years, Yvonne remembered the day they were approved as foster carers.
“Fostering gives both of us total job satisfaction.”
After fostering for five years, Yvonne remembered the day they were approved as foster carers. “We didn’t have time to catch our breath. We came out of our panel, were given a tour of the office and introduced to all the staff including the placements team. During this introduction, we were approached immediately about the possibility of taking a brother and sister. After this initial conversation, we met the children the following day and they came to live with us the day after that.
“This was a short placement for seven weeks. We knew the plan was for the children to go home to mum and dad and we had lots of contact with them. The parents worked really hard to turn their lives around so they could have their children back. We built a great relationship with them and found it really important not to be judgemental. This really has helped make working with families very rewarding.”
Those first few weeks brought a real appreciation of what fostering is all about as John explained. “The first night we had the children, we were on high alert. We spent the night listening for every little noise. Both children were a delight and we really enjoyed having them. But it wasn’t without its difficulties. The little boy who was only four went to bed with a tear in his eye every night. It was heart breaking to see and, because he was so young, he couldn’t put his emotions into words. But essentially, he was missing his parents. We’ve come to appreciate that all children love their parents unconditionally, regardless of the background that brought them into care.”
Since they started fostering, John and Yvonne have cared for 29 children, some of whom have gone on to be adopted. The couple have found working with adoptive parents very rewarding and their work gave them a lot of satisfaction. John was very honest about the challenges of moving children on. “It is hard, you bond with the children and you feel their loss when they move on. But if it didn’t hurt, you probably shouldn’t be fostering.”
John is a Carer Representative, an important role within Fostering People that involves representing carers’ views to the agency at regular meetings with the senior management team. He also reports any agency news to other foster carers at the monthly support groups. Both John and Yvonne enjoy the support meetings as they provide vital peer support. John also uses his previous experience in college education to help other carers completing their NVQs.
Their advice for anyone considering fostering is to understand fully the qualities needed to foster. “You need a lot of patience, a lot of time to give and you need to be strict at times too. The youngest child we're currently looking after was previously never told no. This led to lots of tantrums in the early days which were testing. But it was important for her to learn that she couldn’t always have her own way.
“Fostering is something that you really have to want to do. And, if you’re not fully prepared for it, the challenges you face will make you want to give up. We found the first year of fostering is the hardest, when you’re finding your feet and learning so much so quickly. But it does get easier!
“Fostering takes really good organisational skills to complete all the daily tasks involved in caring for children - completing training courses, attending support groups and maintaining proper recordings of the children’s placement. But the one thing you get is total job satisfaction.”