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Tracy and Ian's fostering story

Following a long career with the local authority, Tracy and Ian decided the time was right to make the move to an independent agency. “We attended training with foster carers from the independent sector and when they discussed the support they received, we realised it was possible to have a more positive fostering experience,” describes Ian.

September 28 2020 - 4 min read

“It isn’t really a job to us at all.”

In a fostering career stretching back seventeen years, Tracy and Ian have looked after eleven young people - most of whom have been placed with them long term.

Tracy recalls: “I always wanted a large family, having come from one myself, and had my heart set on having six children. We had three beautiful daughters but circumstances meant I couldn't have any more. So Ian and I became foster carers.”

Following a long career with the local authority, Tracy and Ian decided the time was right to make the move to an independent agency. “We attended training with foster carers from the independent sector and when they discussed the support they received, we realised it was possible to have a more positive fostering experience,” describes Ian.

“We did a lot of research to make sure we made the right decision and contacted seventeen independent agencies. We arranged home visits with five and decided to apply to Fostering People. We had real confidence in the worker who came to see us and he was the only person we saw able to answer all our questions.

“We’ve been really pleased we made the move to an independent agency and the support from Fostering People has been marvellous. We believe the placement breakdowns we experienced in the past wouldn’t have happened with the backing we get from our current social worker. It’s the little things that make such a big difference.”

On the morning they told us their fostering story, the couple had just moved a little boy on to adoption and, despite feeling emotional about the move, both Ian and Tracy were exceptionally positive about his new family.

“We held a party for Harry to mark his last night with us. All our family and friends were there when there was a knock at the door and we found our social worker bearing cupcakes with one extra special one she'd made and boxed for Harry. This meant a lot to us and confirmed that we really had made the right decision to move to Fostering People.

“Harry was a wonderful little boy and we've really enjoyed having him. He gave us a scare in the beginning though, coming to us at just 16 months old with no speech and only just starting to walk. He sat on the sofa for three weeks and didn’t engage with us at all. More worryingly, he wouldn’t eat. I had just taken him out in his pushchair and decided to buy him a sausage roll. He took it from me, held it for a while, took a bite and gave me a huge smile. It was a wonderful moment and such a relief after weeks of worrying he wouldn’t eat.”

The couple’s long fostering career means they're ideally suited to advising anyone considering fostering as a career. “Fostering isn’t a job to us,” insists Tracey. “The paperwork makes it a job and it’s a necessary part of fostering but looking after the children comes naturally. We've been very fortunate that we have the support of our family and our own children have grown up with fostering. Two of them are now foster carers with Fostering People too.

“There are always highs and lows in fostering but it's so much easier if you don’t try and change a child, because they don’t want to be changed. You're there to build their self-confidence and gain their trust. The most important thing you can do is listen and be alert to any signs they give you, even if it's just in their body language. But seeing children’s confidence grow is the most wonderful aspect of fostering.”