Sue’s Story

Congratulations to Sue for being awarded Jay Foster Carer of the Month for March 2018.

When we presented her award, we took the time to chat to Sue about how she had come to foster for the last 11 years.

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

‘My daughter’s best friend was experiencing problems with her own parents and whilst they were trying to sort it out, my daughter said to me “mum, you are great at sorting problems out and listening to kids” and the rest is history!’

How long did you think about fostering before you applied?

‘The very next day I contacted Jay Fostering. I explained that I knew nothing about what to do and within no time at all I was on my way to becoming a foster carer.’

Did you have any reservations about fostering before you applied?

‘I was quite worried about it to start with, as it is a big responsibility looking after other people’s children.’

What did you do before you fostered?

‘I worked for the Co-Op in their Goods Inwards Department. For a while, I juggled that job and fostering but eventually finished with the Co-Op to foster full time.’

What skills do you feel that you bring to the role of a foster carer?

‘A caring attitude, patience and understanding. I am a good listener and I do not judge other people by the circumstances they find themselves in. I like to make the children I look after laugh and my 9-year-old placement says I am a “good cooker”!’

What is the most enjoyable thing about fostering?

‘Whether it is a baby coming straight to me from hospital, a young person having trouble at home or children living in conditions they are finding hard to handle – whatever placement has come my way, I have just got on with it and adapted to their needs. This might be a challenge, but I love it!’

What has been the most difficult part of fostering?

‘Sometimes, even after you have done everything you can, a placement might breakdown. Even after all these years, it is very hard for me to handle. You have to realise that you just can’t help everyone.’

What support do you receive from Jay?

‘The support I have received from Jay has always been second to none! It’s not only from the staff at Jay, but other Foster Carers as well, providing an ear when you need someone to talk to. All of the Social Workers I have worked with have been really good but especially my Supervising Social Worker Lorna, who is with me every step of the way. Thank you, Lorna!’

Would you recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else? If so, why?

‘Yes, I would encourage people to foster. But sit back first and think about how it will fit in with your existing family. You may be the foster carer but your own family are part of the job as well!’

Any additional comments that you would like to make?

‘Just a big THANK YOU to everyone at Jay for being just a phone call away.’

Thank you, Sue! You really deserve the Carer of the Month award for your dedication and commitment to the fostering task.

Praveen & Sunita’s Story

Congratulations to Praveen & Sunita for being awarded Jay Fostering’s ‘Foster Carer of the Month’ for February 2018!

When we presented their award, we took the time to chat to Prav about how the couple had come to foster for the last 9 years.

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

‘A combination of things really. One of our relations fostered for Jay and we spoke to them on a few occasions about the fostering task. Then the property next door to us became vacant and we had the idea to knock through and make it an adjoining fostering home for young adults. We asked Jay to consider this as a possibility and they said yes!’

How long did you think about fostering before you applied?

‘For a good few months.’

Did you have any reservations about fostering before you applied?

‘Not too many as we had discussed fostering at length with our relations.’

What did you do before you fostered?

‘I worked for Peugeot as an Engineer for 28 years and then ventured into property development for a couple of years. Sunita is still a Civil Servant and has been since she left school.’

What skills do you feel that you bring to the role of a foster carer?

‘Our caring nature, listening skills and ability to work well with people at all different levels.’

What is the most enjoyable thing about fostering?

‘Seeing the young people that we look after developing into sound and stable young adults, ready for the next step of their journey into independent living.’

What has been the most difficult part of fostering?

‘We foster a lot of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children and it is difficult to have to deal with when they are not allowed to stay in the country, especially after they have worked so hard and fully adapted to life in the UK.’

What support do you receive from Jay?

‘We have received excellent support from Jay throughout our 9 years with them. The Placements Team have kept us busy with well-matched placements, our Supervising Social Worker who is always there with help and advice and the Registered Manager, who has been working with us from the beginning of our time with Jay. On top of all that, there is a comprehensive training package available to us.’

Would you recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else? If so, why?

‘Definitely! It is a very rewarding career and the experiences you have with fostering will enrich your whole life experience.’

Any additional comments that you would like to make?

‘Jay Fostering have done an excellent job during the 9 years we have worked together – through good times and bad – and I would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you!’

And a big thank you from Jay to Prav & Sunita for their dedication and commitment to the young people in their care!

Here they are with their own two sons.

Ryan’s Story

In celebration of LGBT Fostering & Adoption Week, we asked Jay foster carer Ryan – ‘how did you get into fostering?’

Ryan has been a foster carer for Jay, with his partner Darren, for nearly a year.

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

‘I grew up in foster care so it had always been my intention to give back. I felt that I could provide a better standard of care than I received from my time in foster care. My experiences as a looked after child wasn’t good, as I was physically abused by my carers. I knew at the time that the abuse shouldn’t be happening and that I should feel safe with my foster carers, but I didn’t. I decided that I wanted to provide care to children the correct way, the way it should be done, the way I should have been cared for.’

How long did you think about fostering before you applied?

‘I thought about becoming a foster carer from the age of around 14. I got into a serious relationship at 18 and made it clear from the start that I wanted to be a foster carer. We applied when I was 23 years old.’

Did you have any reservations about fostering before you applied?
‘I didn’t have any reservations before I applied. I had been through the system myself and knew what to expect.’

What did you do before you fostered?
‘Before becoming a foster carer, I found it hard to hold down a job because I knew that ultimately, I wanted to be a foster carer. I had several jobs in retail and also spent around a year working in a residential care home in Solihull.’

What skills do you feel that you bring to the role of a foster carer?
‘The skills I feel I have come mainly from experience, experience I gained from growing up in the care system. Also, from my time working in a residential home. I feel I bring certainty to a young person’s life as well a stability and understanding – those skills are invaluable.’

What is the most enjoyable thing about fostering?
‘The most enjoyable thing is knowing that you have the chance to change a young person’s life for the better. Seeing that young person flourish and gain confidence is an enjoyable thing in itself – plus all the fun you have along the way is a bonus!’

What has been the most difficult part of fostering?
‘I find reading about the young person’s background, and the reasons that they have come in to care, the most difficult part of fostering, closely followed by saying good bye to them when they leave your care.’

What support do you receive from Jay?
‘Jay provide every kind of training required for you to gain knowledge to cope with nearly every situation. I try to get on to every training course possible as they are all informative. I’ve also met some fantastic foster carers who I speak to when need some advice or just a chat. The Jay community is brilliant and everyone bounces off everyone else, which is the making of a good agency and a successful family of carers.’

Would you recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else?
‘I would recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone who can provide a safe, caring, family home. There are 1000’s of children in the UK who need that special person to care for them. But, I would recommend that before applying you think long and hard about it. Foster caring is life changing not only for the young person in your care but for you and your family as well.’

Thank you, Ryan (and Darren)! We feel very lucky to have you as our foster carers – Jay Fostering

Tracy & Ian’s Story

Congratulations to Tracy & Ian who have been awarded Jay Fostering’s ‘Foster Carer of the Month’ for January 2018!

When we presented Tracy with her certificate, we asked her –how did you get into fostering?’

Prior to starting fostering 4 years ago, Tracy had worked in Child Protection for 20 years, and also taught ‘Protective Behaviours’ in schools for a further 5 years. By her own admission, having seen a number of children being removed from their families and placed into foster carer, she “did not like the system” and vowed that one day she would “change it for the better”.

Tracy and Ian were initially concerned about the impact on their own daughter, as well as their wider family, as although Tracy had a lot of experience in working with children and young people, the rest of her family had not. “I had worked with children who had suffered horrendous abuse and were extremely traumatised, and was worried how this might impact my family, in particular my daughter. However, seeing how my daughter has grown and coped with our family fostering makes me wish I’d done it earlier!”

Tracy brings a therapeutic approach to fostering, and feels “getting down on a level” with children and young people helps her to understand how they might be feeling. “Children are often labelled for being in care which is helpful and wrong. They need a supportive, loving and understanding environment in order to thrive”.

Fostering can be difficult at times, especially when working with children who have complex behavioural issues. “My biggest frustration though, is when people think that one solution fits all. Children are individuals, and have their own individual story which means they need a level of care which is unique and tailored to them”. For Tracy the best part of fostering is “seeing children progress as individuals and watching them grow in confidence. Sometimes the smallest things mean the most to them, such as the smile on their faces on Christmas morning.”

Tracy and Ian are supported by their Supervising Social Worker who has been particularly helpful when they are looking after challenging children. “I feel really supported by my Social Worker, and whenever there have been problems, they have been sorted very quickly.” The training is “excellent” and this allows Tracy and Ian to enhance their skills as foster carers even further.

“Fostering has many ups and downs, however it is such a rewarding vocation. When you think of the difference you are making to children’s lives – it’s all worth it!”

On behalf of everyone at Jay Fostering, well done and thank you for your dedication to children and young people and congratulations on your award – thoroughly deserved!

Find out more about what’s involved in becoming a foster carer by calling us today on 0800 0443 789 or email enquiries@jayfostering.com.

Foster Carers and HMRC

For anybody who is considering becoming a foster carer, and for those that are already fostering, you have been invited to take part in a free webinar hosted by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). The webinar aims to help you understand tax responsibilities and any National Insurance issues that may arise for a self-employed foster carer.

The free, hour-long webinar will take place at 11am on the 14th February and will include an interactive question and answer session.

The webinar can be accessed from all laptops, iPads, iPhones or tablets, provided you have internet access.

Spaces are limited and reservations are necessary.
To register, please visit HMRC Foster Carers Registration

Saying ‘Goodbye’ To A Foster Child

The time between the beginning and the end of a placement with a foster child can feel like no time at all. Saying goodbye can be one of the biggest challenges faced by foster carers, as well as for the young people in their care.

Having looked after a person for a period of time, you celebrate their successes, are a shoulder to cry on and you watch them grow up. They become a substantial part of your family.

The Importance of Staying Positive

Whatever the reasons for the departure, it’s normal for foster carers to experience a range of emotions when a child leaves their home. It’s important to realise that having stayed with you for a period of time will have benefited their lives for the better.

If they’re an older teenager and they’re now ready to live independently, you will have probably played the part of an important role model. You would have helped teach them valuable life skills such as learning to cook, clean and manage budgets in preparation for them to live their life on their own.

For younger children who move onto more long-term, permanent placements, it’s important to remember that moving on is in their best interests as it’s eventually helping towards placing them with their ‘forever family’.

Dealing with Grief

Losing a foster child is likely to provoke feelings of grief, so give yourself time to recover and also to celebrate the journey you’ve had together. Being open about these feelings with friend, family and other foster carers will help you to heal.

How We Can Help Foster Carers

If you are a foster carer or are considering becoming a foster carer, we can provide a range of training on how to deal with foster children moving on. Contact our team for more information by clicking here.

Fostering February 2018

Don’t rule yourself out…find out!

This month we will be showing our support for Fostering February by starting conversations about fostering both online and offline!

What is Fostering February?


Fostering February is a month dedicated to raising awareness about the facts of becoming a foster carer and aims to dispel some of the myths and misconceptions which surround it.

It gives an invaluable opportunity to people who are considering becoming a foster carer to have their questions and concerns addressed.

Have you ever thought about becoming a foster carer, but immediately ruled it out?

“I’m in a same sex relationship so I won’t be allowed to foster”
“I am disabled so I won’t be allowed to foster”
“I don’t have a driving license so I won’t be allowed to foster”

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

There are lots of different family living situations that can allow for a foster child which are often assumed can’t. Be sure to find out before making assumptions. For example, your sexual orientation won’t affect whether you are allowed to become a foster carer. The most important factor is that the children feel safe and loved and importantly are properly looked after.

How can you get involved in Fostering February 2018?

Whether you are considering becoming a foster carer or just want to help raise awareness, there are plenty of ways for you to get involved with Fostering February 2018. Take a look at their website here.

If you think you could help a child, please register your interest by clicking here and a member of our friendly team will be in touch.

National Storytelling Week 2018

Connect with your foster family through stories

 

From 27th January – 3rd February 2018, it is National Storytelling Week, held by The Society for Storytelling.

The week is the perfect chance for families to come together and celebrate the power of telling stories, an oral tradition which was the very first way of communicating life experiences and the creative imagination!

Sourced from https://www.sfs.org.uk/national-storytelling-week

What’s so important about storytelling?

Storytelling isn’t just a fun activity for children and young people, it can also have a significant impact on their psychological development. Not only can it improve their language skills and imagination, but their ability to tell their own story, articulate their emotions and make themselves heard.

Stories can provide a child with insight into how the world works and can help them to understand themselves and others. Stories can help give a child greater understanding of human emotion and feelings.

The Importance of Storytelling in a Foster Family Environment

Storytelling can be useful for foster children to help strengthen their relationship with their foster carers, as the process of telling and listening to stories can build attachments and relationships.

The storyteller’s own reactions, both in how they tell and talk about the story, can create an environment that brings well-being and playfulness to the relationship.

Go on, join us in celebrating National Storytelling Week and find time to sit down the with the family to tell some inspiring stories!

Reasons to Kick-Start Your Fostering Journey

If you’ve been thinking about fostering for a while, but have been dwelling on the reasons not to foster, here are some reasons that might encourage you to make your initial enquiry.

  1. You’ve got a lot of love to give
  2. Feeling loved and cared for is one of our most basic and fundamental needs, no matter what age we are. However, when children miss out on the feeling of love and care during their early years, it can have a negative impact on their personal development and cause low self-esteem.

    Becoming a foster carer is an opportunity for you to provide a vulnerable child with the love and care they deserve.

  3. Children need to form lasting attachments
  4. Forming lasting attachments in our early years is important to help develop relationships in later life. Unfortunately, many children within the foster care system have not had the opportunity to form these attachments in their childhood due to their changing environment.

    Foster carers play a crucial role in helping children and young people to trust people by forming positive, responsive relationships with them.

  5. Too many children don’t grow up in a family setting
  6. Too many children within the foster care system grow up without their basic needs being met in a safe and happy family environment. Fostering is an opportunity to provide a child with the guidance and support that we all need.

  7. Your care can have a lasting impact
  8. The impact you could have on a foster child, even in emergency and short-term placements, can stay with them forever. Foster children can learn what being part of a caring family environment is like which can, in turn, have a positive effect on their outlook on family life and can positively influence their future.

  9. Fostering is an opportunity to learn new skills
  10. Foster carers receive ongoing support and training, which provides the opportunity to develop new skills and improve existing ones. Your supervising social worker will be there to help you along the way and will provide you with access to various training courses.

    If you’re ready to take the first step to becoming a foster carer and changing a child’s life for the better, click here to get in touch with our friendly team today.

Helping Foster Children Through the Holiday Season

Christmas can and should be one of the most wonderful times of the year for children, excited about the arrival of Father Christmas and the magic the festive period brings. But, for many looked after children and young people, Christmas can be a stressful and difficult time of year.

In the build up to Christmas, all around us the vision of the perfect family enjoying the festivities is portrayed – not only through the media, but through conversations with friends about their plans for the holiday, with whom they’ll be going to visit and what activities they have planned with their families. For a looked after child who has been separated from their birth parents this can evoke powerful emotions, both positive and negative, and stir up memories and feelings from their past.

With this in mind, we’ve come up with simple things you can do this Christmas time to help looked after children cope and make this festive season a happy one…

  1. Talk about Christmas
  2. A child in care may not have a good understanding of the Christmas holiday, what it means and what traditions it brings in your home. Take time to read a few books in the run up to Christmas and be ready to hear about their past Christmases. Encourage them to share good memories, then work out ways that traditions can be integrated. Let them know what to expect, even if it’s as simple as decorations, Christmas music, stockings and lots of family meals!

  3. Maintain routine where possible
  4. Christmas can be a hectic time of year, with gifts to be bought being left until the eleventh hour and plans being changed last minute! It’s important to remember the importance of planning and how children thrive on routine. If for any reason routines can’t be maintained, talk the potential changes through with your foster child, discuss any worries they may have and outline the steps you can both take to help them cope.

  5. Involve everyone
  6. Make your home inviting and cosy together! The key is to ensure that the children or young people see the change in setting as positive and a fun activity to do together.

  7. Write a letter to Santa
  8. For younger children, if this is their first Christmas with you, it’s important that Father Christmas knows where to find you!

  9. Anticipate Christmas to be an emotional time
  10. Expect Christmas to be an emotional time for the children you look after, especially for those who may be unable to see their family. All families have their good moments, even if they are few in number and children may want to talk about these and share memories with you. Take time to listen and enjoy time to bond.

  11. Prepare for guests
  12. Introducing children or young people to extended family or family gatherings can be a daunting experience for them. Planning around family gatherings is important – let them know who’s coming and when. Sometimes, it helps to talk about the visitors in advance, so that your foster child feels a familiarity and level of comfort before they have arrived. If the children or young people want to social that’s great, but remember to give them time and space to get comfortable at their own pace if they would rather.

  13. Be alcohol aware
  14. Be wary that children in care may have witnessed the misuse of alcohol and drugs at home, and seeing people drinking at home could cause anxieties to surface, so drink responsibly.