Sharon’s story

Archived: Posted April 25, 2016

Sharon Hughes’ career in teaching brought her into contact with many foster children and their carers. This was the beginning of her journey into being a foster carer. Today she combines both her teaching and foster experience to better equip carers, adoptive parents and teachers with the necessary skills to support the emotional wellbeing of looked after children. She and her family now foster through Foster Care Associates, with her husband as the main carerm while Sharon combines the practical aspects of foster family life with the demands of running her own business, What About Me? Training Ltd.

Here she talks about her family’s journey into fostering and how her role as a teacher and a carer have become intertwined…

“I have met many teachers who are foster carers or adoptive parents and many more who are considering it for the future. They get to know the looked after children in their classes and, like us, recognise the huge difference a stable home life can make. As we’ve both worked in education, my husband Barry and I used to talk about our pupils and the teenage boys really struck a chord with us, especially those who were often missing from our classes. We have three sons of our own who enjoyed a loving family life and stability in education. We often found ourselves wondering and worrying about the children who were not afforded the same opportunities. As a result, we began our journey into fostering with the aim of being able to help just one child; that was 12 years ago.

“Since then, we’ve looked after 13 children, including a long term placement of 10 years and a ‘step down placement‘ which was about providing a young person with more complex needs the chance to live in a home environment rather than residential care.

“We treat all the children in our care equally, they are very much part of the family. Fostering is a way of life for us and since we became Foster Care Associates carers in 2011 we have become part of a wonderful network of carers in our local area who are like an extended family. Greg, our FCA supervising social worker is superb and provides invaluable support. We’ve faced challenges, but that is where you find the biggest rewards. We fostered a young boy for whom school was not a priority. The combination of a nurturing school environment and a loving home, which prioritised the emotional needs of the child, resulted in significant academic success and enough confidence to lead the school assembly. There have certainly been many tears of joy along the way!

Teachers make great foster carers“Being a foster carer with a teaching background gives you the skills to educate a child holistically, placing as much emphasis on the emotional wellbeing as on academic achievement. Having spent 20 years as a mainstream secondary teacher, with whole school responsibility for behaviour management and special needs, I recognise the importance of stability and a sense of belonging which is critical for looked after children if they are to thrive.

“In my opinion the social aspect of a child’s development should receive more attention, especially for looked after children who are likely to struggle forming relationships. Every teacher knows, a happy child is more willing to engage and has a better chance of learning.  I set up What About Me? Training Ltd to promote good practice in this area. It is important that teachers and carers work together combining their experience and knowledge to support the most vulnerable children. Society is becoming more aware of the specific needs and difficulties faced by children in the care system and more people are beginning to understand the need for supportive, loving carers as well as good schools. My colleague, Kate Tabb, and I work together with teachers to promote best practice and have recently contributed to the Welsh government’s consultation – Raising the Ambitions and Educational Attainment of Children who are Looked After in Wales.

“To anyone who works with children and is thinking about fostering, I’d say it’s a natural progression from what you do every day. It’s also perfectly normal to feel apprehensive, so talk to as many foster carers as you can and remember that as a carer you are still in control of your home. The placements team at Foster Care Associates consider matching criteria very carefully, and will discuss each potential placement, but ultimately you have the final decision about additions to your family.

“You can’t measure the rewards of fostering, but when you see it working first hand it is just brilliant.”

Do you think you could adapt your teaching skills to caring for a foster child or young person like Sharon? If so, please fill in our short enquiry form or call 0800 434 6000.

How can we help?

Ready to start fostering a child or young person? Or just want a bit more information to help you decide whether fostering is for you? All you need to do is contact us.

Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we're here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

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Phone us

Call us on 0800 023 4561 (lines open Monday - Thurs: 9am - 7pm, Fri: 9am - 6pm)

Fostering a child or young person is a big decision so we,re here to answer any questions you may have. Our friendly fostering advisors, many of whom are carers themselves, can talk you through everything you need to know about becoming a foster carer.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Call me back

Haven't got time to chat now? Leave your details and we'll call you back at a time that suits you:

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • Why do we need this? So we can email you a brochure.
  • Why do we need this? We appreciate that starting to foster is a big decision that needs careful consideration and you are likely to have questions. We’d like to help answer those questions.
  • Please enter your postcode to see news and events in you area
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

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