So glad we kept sisters together | How fostering siblings works for us

Fostering siblings

To mark Fostering February, we asked Michael to tell his story of 12 months since fostering siblings.

It’s just over a year since we welcomed sisters M__ and E__ into our home — in the early hours of one winter morning.

Coming from an inner city environment, the girls were understandably unsure at first about our countryside location.

Today, they’re perfectly happy outdoors or playing with our ‘pack’ of four pugs — and are now living with us as a permanent placement.

Fostered sisters with dogs

But we didn’t get to this point as a family overnight — once me and my wife Louise decided we wanted to foster, we had a lot of research to do.

Starting our fostering siblings journey

One of our oldest friends has been a foster parent for years, so we knew what a difference it could make to vulnerable children.

When we started looking into it, we spoke to a number of IFA’s — but it wasn’t until we got in touch with our current agency that it felt ‘right’.

They gave the impression of a ‘family’ environment — friendly contact, helpful information and a lovely initial visit.

It’s been a learning curve — we were apprehensive about our final panel meeting but needn’t have been.

Same with the first LAC meeting we went to — lots of new people, plenty to take in — but not scary at all once you’re there.

And we quickly revised our initial aim not to foster anyone older than our sons, R__ and M__, instead deciding to assess placements on their own merits.

We’re glad we did, as the girls are benefitting from having brothers — and vice versa — plus the age gaps aren’t that big anyway.

Fostered siblings playing

Although neither of the girls were in education when they came to us, we got to work enrolling them in local schools.

While waiting for their places to be confirmed, I was able to spend time with them — I’m self employed and mainly work from home.

And although time with the dogs and enjoying various craft activities was great, it was a relief when the girls were able to join their new schools.

Both sisters have flourished — especially considering how much school they’ve missed out on — and E__ is predicted top grades in every subject.

Making new memories – keeping siblings together

It’s not all work though, we’re a very ‘doing’ family — all of the kids have had a go at steering our canal boat during trips away.

Fostered siblings in the snow

And you’ll often find me up above the treetops — I’ve got a microlight aircraft and also fly powered parachutes.

Louise and I both qualified as pilots years ago in the US and we love getting up high and enjoying the views of Rutland Water and the surrounding countryside.

E__ has already been up for a flight — and we’re even working on persuading our social worker to strap in when she visits during warmer weather!

And now we’ve sorted out the girls’ passports, we can’t wait for our first family holiday abroad — Sri Lanka this Easter.

Giving more children a chance

This last year has been fantastic — the girls are as good as gold and we love them to bits — I would recommend fostering to anyone.

The training has been excellent, we’ve been given all the support we’ve needed and everyone we’ve met has been a huge help.

And our social worker Paula is great — nothing is ever too much trouble for her — but she’s also the one who told us the most heartbreaking thing.

Fostered siblings family

At the ‘Skills to Foster’ course we attended, we found out not only how many kids need help — but also how many a month unfortunately can’t be placed.

Louise and I were lucky to have the childhoods we did — and we’ve done what we can to make sure the girls have the best we can give them.

But it’s important to share our experience — so other people will see how much the girls have enriched our family by coming to live with us.

And hopefully someone will be inspired to change a vulnerable young person’s life — and change their own at the same time.

There’s no better time than now, during Fostering February.

If you’d like to know more about how you could help brothers and sisters who need each other stay together, please contact us online or ring 0800 0443 789.

 

Linda & Shaun’s story

Linda and Shaun have been foster carers for 10 years but only with Jay Fostering for the last two years. Having been awarded the ‘Jay Carer of the Month’ for December, we recently chatted to Linda about the couple’s motivation to become foster carers and how they feel about fostering today.

What made you decide to become a foster carer?

‘We had a friend who had been fostering for some years, who recommended it to us. Our own two children had flown the nest and we felt we could offer a secure and happy home to children in care.’

How long did you think about fostering before you applied?

‘We chatted about it on and off for about 6 months and then we decided to take the plunge and look for an independent foster care provider. We were with one agency for nearly 8 years but became unhappy. Then an old friend recommended Jay Fostering to us and we decided to transfer.’

Did you have any reservations about fostering before you applied originally?

‘Mainly about how our son would handle it (he was only 13 at the time), but we were able to have a preference to care for children younger than he was.’

What did you do before you fostered?

‘I was a Nursery Nurse, working full-time in reception class in a primary school for nearly 20 years. Shaun worked in sales, so he became the main carer, which he did very successfully for 4 years until I decided I wanted to do it full time and become the primary carer! Whilst he’d been at home he studied, which enabled him to have a career change and he now works part-time.’

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

‘We work well as a team and have learned to take on Therapeutic Parenting, which is very different to the way we parented our own children, but very useful, given the complexities of some of the children we have fostered.

We are creative and love to provide children with new experiences and challenges in life. We have a good understanding of child development and how to enhance this and although some past placements have been tough, we’ve learned different strategies and are constantly soaking up new information.’

What is the most enjoyable thing about fostering?

‘Seeing the children thrive when they are given new experiences. Many children in care haven’t had positive parenting and have missed out on certain areas of development. We can promote this development by providing opportunities – woodland walks, painting, play-dough, spending time playing together and being positive. In this way, we get something out of it too! At the moment we’re working through “50 Things to do Before You’re 11 ¾”, compiled by The National Trust, which is lots of fun!

It is also very rewarding to help children get in touch with their emotions and then encourage them to understand and deal with those emotions.’

What has been the most difficult part of fostering?

‘When we were with our old agency, we had some Parent & Child placements, and when some of the young parents made bad choices, I just didn’t get it and I found it hard to deal with. We hadn’t had any training on it and were the first carers in our old agency to have Parent and Child placements. I’m sure that the specific training that Jay Fostering provides, would have helped a lot, rather than learning as we went along, but I do feel we gained a huge amount of experience and were able to show parents how families can work.

Some of our other placements have been children with very challenging behaviours and it has sometimes been hard to see how we could make a difference, which is hard for all of us, but we have been well supported through these times and come out the other side!’

What support do you receive from Jay?

‘Lorna, our Supervising Social Worker, is brilliant! We couldn’t hope for anyone more supportive. She’s there when we need her and understands where we’re coming from. She’s really encouraging.

I attended the Carer Academy training which was excellent (as are all Jay Fostering’s courses!), and am looking forward to more in the future.

I am friends with other carers from Jay, and we meet over coffee to put the world to rights!! I think it’s really important that carers support each other where possible and Jay carers do this all the time.’

Would you recommend becoming a foster carer to anyone else?

‘We are constantly recommending becoming a foster carer, and recommending Jay. Having been with another agency in the North for nearly 8 years we have seen how supportive and fair Jay Fostering agency are in comparison. They not only provide us as ample opportunities to meet and train, but also encourage children in care to meet up at different exciting events.’

Thank you, Linda & Shaun! We feel very lucky to have you as our foster carers – Jay Fostering

Introduction to attachment and foster care | Joe Nee

Expert in attachment theory Joe Nee highlights some of the impact a child’s attachment experience can have on them and their foster families.

 

As children develop, from conception to adulthood, they need support from those responsible for protecting them during this journey.

When going through the various stages in this developmental process their experience of attachment plays a crucial role.

This continues throughout the young person’s development, from absolute dependence, to independence and autonomy as an adult.

And the different needs of children at each stage demand differing responses from those charged with their care.

Each develops at their own pace — from being unable to let their main carer out of their sight to the ‘terrible twos’, ‘sibling rivalry’ the ‘lazy teenager’ and so on.

Studying how a child attaches to their parents/carers helps us understand how this process is affected by the nature and quality of our early experiences.

This is particularly true of children who have experienced early trauma and/or neglect.

Children and Attachment

All children need to develop a secure emotional attachment to their parents or their primary/main carer at an early stage.

Young people may seem ‘unable’ to learn, or understand consequences, behaving in ways that seem to guarantee they won’t get what they want.

They may even feel responsible for their problems and those of their parents, believing themselves to be ‘bad’ or deserving of punishment.

The quality of the attachment relationship a child develops with their key caregiver is a good indicator of their ability to cope and adapt.

And as the child grows, this relationship means they continue to view this caregiver as a potential source of comfort in any stressful situations.

Unfortunately, this can continue to be the case even if the caregiver proves to be abusive, neglectful, fails to protect them, or their life seems to be in chaos.

For foster parents, this can clearly prove a challenge, as the child seeks comfort and approval from whichever caregiver to whom they have been attached.

 

The effects of attachment on foster parents

Attachment relationships are a biological inevitability, designed to ensure a child’s protection and survival.

But a child or young person’s ability to attach and form a bond with a caregiver often depends on the type of care they received from others earlier in their life.

It’s important that foster parents get appropriate support to promote healthy attachments for the children and young they care for in their family.

And where young people are removed from birth parents permanently, it’s vital that the appropriate matching and training takes place.

Foster parents looking after children who have disorganised or extremely anxious attachments can experience similar emotional upheaval.

Of course, fostering can be challenging at any time — but the stress involved in caring for some children can have a serious impact on the placement success.

In such situations, support from social and/or professional networks is typically a major factor in alleviating carer stress.

Particularly important is access to timely and effective support from social workers and other professionals.

Research has shown that the absence of this can exacerbate the strain on carers and their families.

 

Meeting a young person’s needs

Some younger children with a history of maltreatment can respond quickly to changes in their emotional environments, forming secure attachments to carers.

But research and experience tells us that this will not always be the case with certain children.

Some appear to resist support, continue to distrust adults and seem unable to seek care or comfort when distressed.

In these cases, if foster parents wait for a ‘signal’ or sign from a child to provide care, the young person’s needs may remain completely unmet.

We know that looked after children benefit greatly if they can develop secure attachments with their caregivers.

To enable this for those with attachment or trauma issues, foster parents can aim to engage with them at their emotional age (rather than chronological).

In order to ensure that young people with attachment issues are cared for most effectively during foster placements, several measures can help:

  • Capacity of prospective carers to recognise/tolerate difficult behaviour and remain sensitive/responsive to a child’s needs should be evaluated
  • Regular training and support to ensure carers can reflect on a child’s behaviour with reference to their needs rather than react immediately to their behaviour
  • Carer access to reflective space and non-judgmental listening to promote sensitive, responsive care and alleviate the strain on all concerned

Any professionals, including foster parents, who are asked to care for or work with looked after children should have basic but specific training.

This should concern the impact of early attachment issues and trauma on those children.

And the support available should be proactive — not crisis driven or occurring only when stress levels are unacceptable.

 

Attachment and teenagers

A young person may appear to be settled, happy and thriving in a foster family environment.

But one of the triggers that can disrupt the situation for all concerned can be the onset of puberty.

The stresses and confusion for a young person during this time and their teenage years, can pose problems in terms of changing behaviour.

Mother and teenage daughter having an arguument

Another potential influential factor is young people’s vulnerability to harmful external influences.

A teen’s early experiences of mistrust, inappropriate attachment and confusion about relationships can make them an obvious target.

The potential threat of controlling relationships, sexual exploitation or gang associations increase for those with an inability to manage social relationships.

 

Learn more about attachment

Understanding the impact of attachment and how it can affect the fostering experience for young people and carers is important.

Find out more about the available training and support available by using the bibliography below, contacting NFA, or see further resources on attachment from the Fostering Network.

 

About the author

Joe Nee is an independent psychology professional with extensive experience in the education and child protection sectors.

He has worked with local authorities, government departments, the police, prisons and voluntary organisations throughout the UK.

As a renowned authority on child protection, families, fostering and adoption, his expertise as a consultant is both insightful and invaluable.

 

Bibliography

  • Dozier M, Albus K and Bates B (2001) Attachment for infants in foster care: the role of caregiver state of mind, Child Development, 72, 1467-1477
  • Dozier M, Peloso E, Lewis E, Laurenceau J P and Levine S (2008) Effects of an attachment-based intervention on the cortisol production of infants and toddlers in foster care, Dev Psychopathology, 20, 845-859
  • Fonagy,P. and Target, M. (2002) Early Intervention and the Development of Self Regulation. Psychoanalytic Inquiry. V 22,Issue 3
  • Furnival, J. Practice with looked after children and young people IRISS Insights no.10. May 2010
  • Hughes, Dan (2006) Building the Bonds of Attachment
  • Holmes, J (2001) The Search for the Secure Base: Attachment Theory and Psychotherapy. Routledge
  • Hosking G and Walsh I (2005) Wave Report 2005: Violence and what to do about it, Croydon Wave Trust
  • Kochanska G, Barry RA, Stellern SA and O’Bleness JJ (2009) Early Attachment Organization Moderates the Parent Child Mutually Coercive Pathway to Children’s Antisocial Conduct, Child Development, 80, 1288-1300
  • Millward R, Kennedy E, Towlson K and Minnis H (2006) Reactive attachment disorder in looked-after children Emotional & Behavioural Difficulties, 11(4)
  • Steele M (2006) The ‘added value’ of attachment theory and research for clinical work in adoption and foster care, in J Kenrick (ed) Creating New Families Therapeutic approaches to fostering adoption and kinship care, London: Karnac Books
  • WilPerry B and Hambrick E (2008) The Neurosequential Model of Therapeutics, Reclaiming children and youth,17(3)
  • son K (2006) Can foster carers help children resolve their emotional and behavioural difficulties? Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 11(4), 495-511
  • Zeanah C (2001) Evaluation of a preventive intervention for maltreated infants and toddlers in foster care, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 40(2), 214-221

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.