Two foster carers, Katie and Jade from Denbighshire, North Wales started their fostering career earlier than most at just 23 and 25.
Jade’s Auntie has been fostering since Jade was 14, and therefore she is fully aware of the rewards fostering can bring. Although Katie had never considered becoming a foster carer beforehand, Jade introduced her to the world of fostering and the rest is history.
Jade said: “Fostering is the best thing we have ever done. After university, we both worked full time until being passed as full-time foster carers in 2015. I finished working to become the main foster carer and Katie continued to work for a year, but we decided it would be great if Katie could be at home full time too. We love the time we now get to spend all together.”
The couple jumped head first into fostering and have already cared for more than 20 children, including two teenagers currently, and a little girl with disabilities who is with them one day a week.
Jade continued: “We were passed for three children aged 0 – 18 years and have thoroughly enjoyed caring for every single age group, with all the children being as memorable as each other. Some of the children have come to us on respite placements, which are always fun because they get to take a break from their day-to-day lives and always enjoy their time with us. We had our second placement arrive just a month after being passed and she is still with us today, making her our longest placement, hitting the two-year milestone.
“We’ve had a lot of contact with different birth parents. Although some have asked us if we’re in a relationship, we have never experienced any objections or offensive remarks.”
Our fostering experiences
After fostering for more than two years now, Jade and Katie have faced a variety of experiences, both positive and negative, but have received excellent support from their family and friends. Jade initially discussed her plans with her Auntie and Uncle who have fostered for 14 years and was pleased to find that they were both extremely supportive and offered reassuring advice based on their own experiences. Both of the couple’s parents also offered their support and now play a positive role in the lives of all the children under Katie and Jade’s care.
Fostering can be a daunting prospect but the couple did not let it deter them.
Jade said: “People often express how they couldn’t foster for fear of getting too attached, but we feel forming attachments is key to supporting the children. A lot of people praise us with admiration and we’re very proud of what we do.
“Only one child has ever asked us directly if we’re together and we’ve never made a big deal out of our relationship and treat it as any fostering couple would. It definitely isn’t a problem with the children. Some girls in our care have even expressed how nice it is to have female company.”
There’s no denying that fostering is not without its challenges, but Jade and Katie believe it is all about making the appropriate adjustments to not only the carer’s life but also their home, just like any parent would. Both carers agree that the biggest challenge is the placement coming to an end, and although the feeling of loss is unavoidable, it becomes a lot easier with the support of your chosen fostering agency.
Training and support with FCA
Jade reflected: “We started our fostering journey with our local authority with whom we stayed with for 18 months but decided to move to Foster Care Associates (FCA) as it is renowned for its quality training and second-to-none support. It’s so important to have up-to-date knowledge and information to be able to provide our children with the best possible care. From weekly phone calls with our supervising social worker to monthly home visits, there’s a wide range of services that we have used and experienced to provide the highest standard of care.
“There’s no discrimination from FCA and we really liked that it used images of same-sex and heterosexual couples in its advertisements.”
The couple are big advocates of fostering and encourage those considering the career change to go for it, promising it will be the best decision they ever made.
“Although we were a little nervous at first about how people would react to us, it’s exactly the same as anybody else fostering so there’s nothing to worry about.
“In our house we celebrate the small breakthroughs that can sometimes be overlooked just as much as the bigger milestones. It’s these things that make fostering the best experience. We all laugh at least once a day as a sense of humour can be what it takes to save the day. At the end of every day or week, we go through the achievements we’ve all made. Even the smallest thing can be reassuring. Fostering is incredible – it’s rewarding, enlightening and inspiring all at once and we can’t picture our lives any other way.”
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Belinda and Mark’s story
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Belinda and Mark, from Kent, have been fostering for three years.
Jo and Lisa’s story
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Joanne and Lisa from Birmingham have been fostering with FCA since 2017.