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“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”

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.

February 4 2022 - 5 min read

Michelle worked with vulnerable children and children in care for 20 years in her previous career as a pastoral manager at a secondary school, which was situated in an underprivileged area. Michelle commented; “I still have a long standing, strong relationship with lots of children there. I worked with many children who, unfortunately, ended up within the care system, and I have also worked with children who have been in the care system for many years, which has allowed me to have a deeper understanding of their care needs. I have worked with parents, professionals, child protection and more in this role, so it has given me a good insight.”

Michelle’s previous job role also involved being the safeguard lead for vulnerable children, as she explains: “I always communicated well with pupils of all ages, from age eleven to age sixteen. I am able to put across boundaries that influence positive behaviour that ultimately enables these children and young people to become well rounded adults, which is the overall aim with fostering too.”

Michelle and Ashley now have two young girls in their care who have settled in very well since August 2021.

The couple were approved at panel within a week and received a phone call whilst holidaying in the Cotswolds, explaining that two sibling girls, aged 15 and 13, were coming into care and were going to be placed with the couple. Michelle said; “I couldn’t think about not taking them in, so we came home from our holiday and were ready and waiting for them to arrive with us!”

Michelle explains that although she had experience working with children, the initial weeks of fostering are challenging; “It is like having a new baby at times, as emotionally, physically and mentally you are very tired!”

“We put lots of effort into what they would like and what they would need in their room and ensured everything was ready for them. Over time, we have naturally gelled really well with the girls and everything has become a lot easier. We have loved getting to know the children over the last few months and have made lots of memories already! They have now become a long-term fostering placement for us, which is great!”

Michelle explains that the experience she gained during her previous career set her in good stead for her fostering journey: “I had quite a lot of involvement to do with behaviour at the school.. This meant I was able to deal with any challenges and was not something that put me off as I have experience with that and the techniques that are involved, to quite a high degree”.

Michelle’s birth daughter, 20, left for University two years ago and her birth son, aged 29, now lives in Australia. Both children were very supportive of Michelle’s decision to foster, as she added; “I gained lots of advice from my children. My Daughter is 20 and has helped us a lot with ideas for the girls' rooms and decorations amongst other things, which is very special for us as a family”.

“Having your own birth children gives you lots of hands-on experience of childcare, and other transferable skills that you can use when fostering. One of the foster children in my care has SEN, and as I have experience working with this from my previous career, this has not been an issue for us.”

Now six months into her full-time fostering journey, Michelle believes that the support she receives from FCA has made all the difference to her and her husband Ashley’s journey; “After initially contacting a family friend who had fostered for many years previously, I was then recommended to go with FCA. They have been brilliant! I think they are a fantastic organisation and are very supportive, professional and welcoming. Sometimes, it is the little things that matter most - for example, it was my husband's birthday a few months ago and FCA sent him a card and a gift, which was just so lovely for us to receive. At FCA North East, you are certainly not just a number”.

She continues; “We have had such a good experience with FCA North East that we would definitely like to foster another child in the future. 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”.

For anyone considering fostering, Michelle has the following advice; “When you are considering fostering children, it is a big commitment and something I think a lot of people will ponder over for quite some time. I believe that if you have been considering this for quite some time, just go for it. I wish I had done this sooner than I did. Do it, and don't think twice! Contact FCA, they will support you throughout the whole process”.
man and woman in meeting with another man

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