Joanne and Steve began fostering with FCA in 2017. Here she shares their fostering journey so far and why every foster parent should make themselves available for out of hours fostering.
“For 21 years my mum and I ran a successful wedding dress shop, but as more people began to buy their dresses online and the industry became more intense and competitive we made the decision to sell the business. Having always been involved with running the local Brownies and Rainbows children’s group I enjoyed taking the children on trips and organising local activities. I had done various safeguarding courses and had a current DBS check too, so fostering really felt like the natural next step".
Joanne and Steve researched online to find the right fostering agency and read the reviews on FCA, they were impressed with positive comments about all the support.
Initially, they began short-term fostering and their first child was a 16-year-old who came on an emergency placement. He was with them for two weeks and Joanne reflects on their journey and explained how it prepared them for fostering as a whole.
Their next placement was three Polish children two girls and one boy aged three, two and one. “The children couldn’t speak English and were originally due to stay with us for seven weeks. Arrangements were made for them to live permanently with their biological Auntie from Poland but due to Covid and restrictions, it took another six months before they could go back to Poland. It meant the children ended up staying with is for a total of 16 months so naturally we were very attached. Through an interpreter, I got to know their Auntie really well and we became good friends. The children are thriving and are now aged seven, five and four years old. We are still in touch weekly, using Facebook translate to catch up and we exchange Christmas cards and birthday presents”.
After the children went back to Poland permanently, Joanne and Steve took six months off from fostering taking some needed time out.
But it was a call from the Out of Hours team one Saturday morning looking for a foster home for two young boys aged one and eight years old who needed an emergency placement and it was then Joanne knew she had to say yes.
Although she didn’t have much information she knew that the boy's mum was pregnant and in hospital. The boys has nowhere to go and were in the maternity unit. “The Out of Hours Team were really good, they explained the situation and although I didn’t feel pressured to say yes, I knew they needed to know our decision quickly. I had a conversation with my husband as we agreed that it was the right time to start our fostering journey again, it felt right so we said yes. We had toys, a cot, a highchair, clothes for the one-year-old and a single bed for the 10-year-old but that was our first older child. The boys arrived four hours later.”
Not wanting the siblings to be separated Joanne also agreed to foster their newborn baby brother, who came at four days old weighing 4lb 2oz.
Joanne explains the support she has received “FCA and I worked together to ensure we could offer the best for the children, we discussed what that would look like and what I would need such as transport for the 10-year-old to and from school. My mum is also part of my support network and she helps a lot too".
The children are now one, three and ten and although are awaiting the final court proceeding to decide their future, Joanne tells us despite it being hard work and challenging at times with the different age groups, the day's trips, holidays, family times and all those special milestone moments have made it so worthwhile and watching the boys flourish is so rewarding.
Joanne’s advice to any foster parent considering out of hours is “do it, make yourself available. Not all children come into foster care between 9-5pm. You don’t have to say yes and there is no pressure. You should consider every referral as you could be missing out on a child that not only really needs you but could also be the best match, which is critically important for their future ensuring they are secure and loved”.
“It is amazing to see what wonderful children they have grown to become.”
March 15 2022
Christie, a Derbyshire local, has been fostering for the past three years and sat down to share her experience and advice for future foster parents.
“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.