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Day in the life feature

Biography

Michael MontgomeryMichael and Frances Montgomery have been fostering with Foster Care Associates (FCA) Northern Ireland for seven years. The couple have cared for 14 youngsters in that time and are supported by their daughters Cherith, 24, and Hannah, 22 who have been approved as respite foster carers. The sisters have been really positive about fostering and it has allowed them to appreciate what they have and opened their eyes to different walks of life.

Prior to fostering, Michael worked as a coach builder for 25 years but decided to follow a different direction after seeing an FCA advert in his local paper. At the time Michael hadn’t realised that fostering could be a career, or that the role came with a professional fee but after some thought he realised he could use the skills that he had developed from raising his own children to foster vulnerable youngsters.

Seven years later and the Montgomery family have never looked back, their only wish being that they’d started fostering earlier. They enjoy seeing the children that live with them flourish, whether it be achieving at school or developing their social skills. Fostering can be challenging and it takes time for youngsters to adhere to rules or boundaries but, with the support from their foster family and FCA, young people are able to thrive.

Day in the life of Michael

7am My day begins like most families with school age children: I make breakfast for the youngsters and prepare their uniforms and lunch, ready for school. Before they leave the house I make sure that they have their homework with them.

8am I then complete the school run with the family dog in tow and drop the children off before walking the dog around the local park. This then leaves me with a bit of free time to tidy the house and put the washing on from the ever flowing laundry basket.

10am I am very much part of the professional team at FCA and there are lots of opportunities for training and personal development. On this particular day, I attended a training session at the Belfast office called ‘Men who Foster,’ which was a great opportunity to speak to other male foster carers and build up my support network. This support makes all the difference to my daily tasks as I know that there is always someone to turn to for advice.

2pm While I am in the office I am able to catch up with my social worker to discuss any issues I have with the young people in placement and to run any ideas past her. She also talks about different referrals that are coming in, to see if we might be able to look after more young people in the coming months.

2.30pm I then dash off to do the school pick up and find time to speak with the children’s teacher about how they have been doing in class. Their teacher and I fill in a diary to record this information. It is important to have this interaction with their teacher to address any issues before they become too big and to also encourage and reward the children if they are making improvements at school.

4pm Then, if the weather is nice, we take a trip to the park before popping to the supermarket to pick something up for dinner. Once we get back to the house the children start their homework with my wife or I on hand to help them work their way through it. Sometimes after school the children meet with FCA’s Education Officer who provides extra support, so we like to catch up on what the children have learned in this session as well.

5.30pm Dinner is a family affair for us so we all sit around the table and spend some quality time together, discussing our day. It’s important for the young people to practice manners and get used to a routine as some looked after young people are not used to eating dinner together or even using a knife and fork.

6.30pm Then we have a bit of downtime with the children watching TV or playing games before getting bathed and ready for bed. Bedtime can sometimes be a challenge but we’ve had training on how to deal with each situation and this is where the support from FCA really helps.

8pm Once the children are settled in bed I do a little bit of paperwork, recording what has happened with the children during the day from progression at school to a challenge with bedtime. I then make sure that I have an idea of diary appointments for the following day which might include making arrangements for birth family contact after school.

9pm Following a busy day it is nice to unwind and relax with the family so we make sure that we always allow time for this. As fostering involves the whole family we make sure that we are always on hand to support each other and share the fostering task. Choosing to work as a foster carer for FCA is the best career choice I have made and has brought with it so many rewards.

If you would like to find out more about the challenges and rewards of fostering a vulnerable youngster, contact FCA Freephone on 0800 434 6000, visit www.iwanttofoster.com or join us on facebook.com/fcafostering

FCA welcomes single carers, married, cohabiting and same sex couples from all walks of life, who are passionate about making a positive and lasting difference to youngsters in care.

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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  • 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.
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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.