Dawn & Jack’s story

Dawn & Jack have been fostering with Jay for 6 years, although Dawn’s career in fostering began much earlier with a different agency.

Before she met Jack, Dawn was a host family for students and asylum seekers and she feels that it was a ‘natural progression’ for her to move into a fostering role. As a couple, they felt that they ‘had a lot of love and care to give to children’ and Dawn suggested to Jack that they consider fostering as a couple.

Dawn had no reservations at this point as she had had previous experience but it was a ‘whole new entity’ to Jack and the couple spent several months discussing all the aspects of the fostering task before Jack felt he was ‘100% sure’ that they should apply.

They each bring their own personal qualities to fostering but we asked Dawn to name some of them for us. She said, ‘organisational and administration skills, problem solving techniques, empathy and the ability to teach children and young people the life skills that they will need to move forward with their lives. It is important for them to have boundaries and guidelines in order to know right from wrong. It also helps that we both have a good sense of humour, etiquette, decorum and diplomacy skills.’

The couple really enjoy making a difference to the lives of the children and young people in their care but it is not always an easy task. It can be difficult to get the children to open up about their lives before coming into care, to enable them to get the help they need. It is also hard to get across the ‘dangers of the misuse of the internet’ and ‘helping them to understand why boundaries and guidelines are put into place’ when they may not have had them before.

‘But the support we receive from Jay is excellent. We have a fantastic Supervising Social Worker, who gives great advice and really listens to us. We have access to excellent training and we know other Jay foster carers who are always available for a chat when we need it.

We asked Dawn & Jack if they would recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else? ‘Yes! It is wonderful to look back and see how the young people in our care have blossomed and how their self-confidence has improved over time. It really is wonderful to make a difference!’

‘We love working with Jay Fostering. They are a great agency. They listen and help and always give sound advice.’

Thank you, Dawn & Jack. We love working with you too! Long may that continue, as your commitment to the fostering task is admirable – Jay Fostering.

Cheryl & Emma’s story

For the last 5 years, Cheryl & Emma have been fostering with Jay. We are always interested in how our carers came to foster. Here is their story:

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

“It is something that we had discussed in passing many times. Then we met a foster family who had a static caravan in close proximity to ours and once we got talking it became very clear that the previous passing conversations were now going to be life changing conversations. After speaking with carers and the children they had in placement it soon was clear that fostering was what we wanted to do.”

How long did you think about fostering before you applied?

“Emma had periodically thought about fostering since her daughter had been born 12 years ago; Cheryl since marrying Emma in 2010.”

Did you have any reservations about fostering before you applied?

“Yes lots, mainly around the unknown of the process to become a foster carer. Who to speak to, where to go for the information to help decide if it was right for our family. Would we have to finish working? How would we manage financially if left without a placement for a length of time.? How it would impact on our birth children and our relationship, if at all. What support would be available during the application process and after?”

What did you do before you fostered?

“Emma was an Activities Co-ordinator and Holistic Therapist at a specialist care home. Cheryl was a Registered Home Manager of a specialist care home but left in 2016 to become full time foster carer along with Emma.”

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

“Life experience, an understanding of emotions and the impact of trauma. We are able to nurture personalities to help young people understand what being part of a family is like. This helps the young people we look after grow and move in to independent living. We also have lots of clinical knowledge.”

What is the most enjoyable thing about fostering?

“Helping the young person overcome their daily challenges and the smile on their face when they do.”

What has been the most difficult part of fostering?

“Frustration plays a big part when waiting for decisions or appointments for the young people especially if there are a lot of professionals involved.”

What support do you receive from Jay?

“Excellent support all round, there is always someone on the end of the phone 24/7. Everyone is supportive especially our Supervising Social Worker; it feels like an extended family around us. Training is informative and purposeful and in particular the Nottingham support group and network is amazing.”

Would you recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else?

“Yes, we would and we often promote being foster carers with Jay within our family and friend circle. The good times and rewards definitely outweigh the difficult times; you know you are making a difference no matter how big or small to the young person who is living with you and you are giving them something that they have never had or may have never experienced.”

Cheryl & Emma added:

“People should not be put off fostering with Jay, by the location of their head office as support groups and training venues are all local within your area. You are made to feel part of a bigger family.”

Thank you for sharing your story with us Cheryl & Emma. Your commitment to the young people in your care is exemplary – Jay Fostering.

Maria & Israel’s story

Maria & Israel have been fostering with Jay for the last 6 years. They have previously been awarded Carer of the Month with us so we asked, “how did you get into fostering?”

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

“Before fostering, we always looked after 16-18 year olds in supported accommodation. After seeing the trauma and the devastation some of the children were left with, we wanted to make a difference earlier.”

How long did you think about fostering before you applied?

“Probably around 5 years.”

Did you have any reservations about fostering before you applied?

“Yes absolutely. It’s quite daunting having strangers come into your home, even if they are children, as you don’t always get to meet them first.”

What did you do before you fostered?

“We have had experience with working with 16-18 year olds who were leaving care.”

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

“We like to think that our time in the leaving care sector prepared us for most things within fostering. We have an in-depth knowledge and empathy with these children, which can help them to know that somebody does get them, even when they are sometimes unsure themselves. We have encountered self harm, ADHD, Autism and attachment.”

What is the most enjoyable thing about fostering?

“Seeing the children change, we love taking them and doing new things with them and seeing the light come on and their faces shine.”

What has been the most difficult part of fostering?

“No time off, you are always on the job.”

What support do you receive from Jay?

“Our social worker Claire is always on hand through difficult times. She needs social worker of the month too!!”

Would you recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else?

“Absolutely there is no better job than raising our children to become strong adults. And the smiles make it all worth it!”

Thank you Maria & Israel for all of your hard work and commitment to the children in your care – Jay Fostering.

Jennie & Michael’s story

Congratulations to Jennie & Michael for being awarded Jay Foster Carer of the Month for September 2018. They have been fostering with Jay for the last year, so when we presented Jennie with the couple’s award, we took the time to chat to her about how they had come into fostering.

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

“As a couple, we have had different life experiences that we felt would be great to bring to the role as Foster Carers. We have two spare bedrooms, love children and love being busy. When we found out more about becoming Foster Carers, we wanted that feeling you get from doing something rewarding and making a difference in somebody else’s life. Nobody asks to be brought into this world and everybody should feel safe a secure with the best opportunities in life, to make their lives what they want them to be. We felt we could make that happen and have so much more love to give.”

How long did you think about fostering before you applied?

“Sadly, about two years and wish we had done it sooner!”

Did you have any reservations about fostering before you applied?

“The only reservation we had was how our own two children would adjust to it.”

What did you do before you fostered?

“I worked in a call centre & Michael was in the public sector.”

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

  • Having children of our own, we have experience of looking after children
  • Multitasking!
  • Empathy
  • Financial knowledge (setting them up for independence)
  • Domestic skills
  • Resilience
  • Unconditional love
  • And we have gained additional skills from the training courses Jay Fostering provides!

What is the most enjoyable thing about fostering?

“Seeing the progress being made by the child/young person and the feeling that gives us. We spend a lot more time together as a family than we ever did before, which is something you can’t put a price on.”

What has been the most difficult part of fostering?

“Fostering can be a little bit like a rollercoaster at times. Reaching the point when the child/Young person is ready to move on can be a proud moment, as well as an upsetting one when you have to say goodbye to them.”

What support do you receive from Jay?

“Where do I start?! The training offered to us by Jay is excellent. We have learnt so much and there are lots more courses in the diary yet! It sounds a little cliché, but Jay feels like an extension to our family. Everybody is supportive and friendly. They will listen to you moan when you need to, because let’s face it, who doesn’t need to sometimes? They will cry with you and laugh with you. That goes for our Supporting Social Worker as well as fellow Foster Carers. Nobody has ever made us feel anything other than important to them.”

Would you recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else?

“Definitely, in a heartbeat. It hasn’t just opened up our hearts that bit more but it has opened up our minds too. Although it is not a requirement, I decided to become a full-time carer and give up working whilst my husband still works. I am there for our own children and those who become part of our family, during all of the school holidays and that is time we can’t get back. We were apprehensive about the potential impact it would have on our own children, which we need not have been. It has been nothing but positive for our children and they look forward to “making more special friends” as they say. It has to be said that it is largely down to the amazing matching Jay do, for which they are well known.”

Thank you for fostering with us Jennie & Michael! You really deserve the Carer of the Month award.

Esi’s Story

Esi has been fostering for Jay since October 2014 and was recently awarded Jay’s Carer of the Month for May. When we presented Esi with her certificate, we asked her “how did you get into fostering?”

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

“My mum had already been a foster care for about 2/3years and I was helping her with respite care. I enjoyed spending time with her kids and playing a motherly role. I have my own experience of moving around quite a lot, living with other people when I was younger.”

How long did you think about fostering before you applied?

“A couple of years after my mum started fostering, I thought to myself, I could do this but I also thought I had to be married with my own house and children or at least have children of my own first, but after having a chat with my mum and Jay Fostering, I found out anyone could be a foster carer so long as they pass the assessment process.”

Did you have any reservations about fostering before you applied?

“My only reservation, I think, was would the children accept me and would I been able to look after another person on my own full time.”

What did you do before you fostered?

“Before I decided to go ahead with the fostering process, I had just been made redundant from my admin job in a college in Birmingham and I worked part-time in an African restaurant (AGG) in Coventry.”

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

“I think from my years of living with other people besides my own family, I have learnt not to judge a book until I have read it. Also, the fact that I can speak other languages besides English, has proven quite helpful particularly with my current placement.”

What is the most enjoyable thing about fostering?

“There’s lot to enjoy about fostering but the fact that I can give advice to a young person on which steps to take and they listen or ask me for advice is quite nice. Also, when they give you a card with a lovely note written inside or when you hear how they describe you to others, can be quite heart melting even if you’ve just had a disagreement.”

What has been the most difficult part of fostering?

“The most difficult part is when the Local Authority have to change the child’s Social Worker and someone different comes into the child’s life; you can see how it affects the children.

 

What support do you receive from Jay?

“With Jay, we have to attend six core training sessions a year, as well as online training. I see my Supervising Social Worker once every month for supervision at home and attend a support group, which is held once a month for Jay’s foster carers within the same area. My Supervising Social Worker comes to PEP and LAC reviews with me for support and we communicate regularly through e-mail and text – she’s always just a phone call away. During school holidays, Jay Fostering always has events on for both LAC and birth children.”

Would you recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else?

“Whenever I tell people what I do, I tell them how they can also make an impact on a child’s life, so long as they have a spare bedroom. I have also wanted to be a mother and thanks to Jay I have the opportunity to do so and make an impact in a young person’s life.”

Thank you Esi for your hard work and commitment to fostering – Jay Fostering

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