Beginning her journey three years ago, Christie always knew she wanted to work with children from a young age.
Reflecting, Christie said: “My mum started off as a nursery nurse and as a school aged child, I would always go after school and help out with the babies. It was something I knew that I would go into after leaving school.”
With caring in her genes, Christie also first discovered fostering through her mother. Christie said: “At one point in her career, my mum was a senior child protection social worker for the local council and during her time she had done an assessment with FCA. She immediately came to me and told me how great her experience was with them and suggested it to me.
“I originally started the fostering process around five years ago with the local authority but after one of my children got poorly combined with the support I got during this difficult time, it made us re-evaluate whether it was the right time to foster.”
Sharing three biological children with her partner Steven, Christie said that fostering is and should be a family decision. Reflecting on the couple’s decision to foster, Christie shared: “Steven and I have always worked in childcare, and I wanted to go on to be a child nurse while Steven moved to being self-employed. Whilst doing nursing, I was unhappy because I was so torn. I loved the job, but I had no personal and family life.
“So after that, we looked into what I could do and I tried a job working from home but even after that I felt that our family life took a back seat. That’s when fostering became a part of our lives.”
In terms of support from her husband and children, Christie said the family has been amazing. Adding to this, Christie said: “Our children have been brilliant and I think by keeping them involved in the process from the very beginning it has helped. From asking them their initial thoughts on fostering right to when a child first entered our home. I think now after a few years of fostering, they know the positive difference we make to children’s lives, and we know they are proud of us.”
She continued: “My mum has been a huge help. She is a fountain of knowledge and has been the perfect person to rely on for support and advice.”
Starting her journey only three years ago, Christie looks back on the process of becoming a foster parent. “It was a great experience and FCA was so supportive throughout the entire time. Compared to the process with the local authority, with a fostering agency they are more thorough but in a good way and I think by doing that it really reflects in the quality of foster parents they recruit. It can be difficult to be so open but at the same time, I would 100% go through that process again”.
Currently looking after two little girls, Christie shares that during her fostering journey, one of the most challenging aspects is the children’s settling in phase and adjusting to their behaviour. Christie added: “It is the same as if we as adults were going to stay somewhere new. It is hard as they are homesick, so they cry for their parents but essentially just crying for familiarity.
“Additionally, it can be quite challenging to manage their behaviour. Many of these children have come from a place where there are no boundaries so by putting these boundaries in place it can be difficult. From the minute children come into our home, we have set a structure in place, so they understand the norm at our house.
“I would always advocate to any new foster parents to get a routine in place. The 18-month child we have in our care right now gets on with routine so well and does wonders for their behaviour. It allows them to know when and what to expect.”
Before their current placement, Christie and Steven fostered two little boys and the couple shared that one of the most rewarding parts of fostering is seeing the positive change in them. Christie shared: “You don’t notice it on a daily basis but once they leave your home and move on, you can stand back and see the positive impact you have had on them.
“The previous two boys we fostered, one went back home, and one went on to be adopted and we have a really good relationship with one of the mothers, so we still get to see the ongoing change in their behaviour. It is amazing to see what wonderful children they have grown to become.”
Adding to this Christie shared: “The first little boy we looked after had a significant disability and his mum always tells us that ‘I wouldn’t have my little boy back if it wasn’t for you’ because we got him into such a good routine. He wasn’t eating before and she couldn’t get him to sleep but whilst in our care, through patience and perseverance we were able to help him immensely. The support we got from FCA was amazing and while it was a difficult period, it is the exact reason we foster, to help make a difference to young children's lives.”
As a family that loves to get out and about, the Newbold family promotes an active lifestyle. Christie said: “We are out every weekend. We have even managed to book two holidays this year and we didn’t even need to think about whether or not we would take them with us, so we are just in the process of making that happen. Every child that enters our home and for as long as they are with us, they are a part of our family.”
Looking back on her time fostering, Christie shared some advice to those considering fostering: “Make sure you know you have done your research. Every child is different so be prepared for their behaviour and the challenges that come with it. Make sure it is a whole family decision and that you're happy with the agency or local authority you have gone with because they are the people you are going to turn to for support.
“During fostering, remember to keep in contact with all the specialists involved and try to take on board the advice they are giving. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. I personally could not praise FCA enough and anyone I meet who considers fostering, the first thing I say is ‘look into FCA’.
“While I feel that the three years has flown by, when I meet other foster parents who have been doing it for 10 or even 20 years, I think about all the experiences and children I have looked after, and it makes me so excited for what's to come in the future.”
“It’s not all about making them happy and giving them nice things, it’s about being a comforting presence and being kind. Sometimes they just need to know you are there.”
April 2 2022
Single foster parent, Marlene, based in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, has worked with children with autism, shares her incredible fostering journey so far.
"We find fostering so rewarding, we do not consider it as a job, it’s a way of life.”
February 28 2022
Foster parents, Delia and Franz who are based in the North of England, have been fostering vulnerable children for seven years and are currently looking after two children.
“Your life does change completely, of course it does, but you are able to invest yourself and your time into creating better outcomes for young people”
February 4 2022
Michelle left her job working in education to devote her time to vulnerable young children. Now, with her partner Ashley, the pair from the North East foster full time and have two young girls in their care.