Nicola began her fostering journey 20 years ago after being a teacher for 10 years. She said: “Well, I was a teacher for 10 years first and I like working with children, but I felt like I could be helping children who didn’t have the same privileges.
“The first child I welcomed, who is still with me now, came to me at 3 months old. I’ve also got two sisters who fostered with FCA as well, so there were three of us fostering with FCA at one point which was lovely.”
Over her 20 years of fostering, Nicola has cared for 40 to 50 children both for long term and respite. When asked how she compared respite to long term fostering, she said: “Although you can’t plan for them long term, like taking them on holiday, you are still providing them with a positive environment, a new lease of life each time. You can still do lots of things and keep busy. It was like their little holiday.”.
“I had five boys at one time, which was lovely. The three children I care for now, plus a 20 and 21 year old. The 20 year old has moved out now but still rings me on a weekly basis which is lovely.”
Nicola reflected on her most memorable moments in her 20 years of fostering, adding: “I had a child who very much wanted to have a sex change. I helped them through it all. I saw them again a few months ago and they have changed their name - to be named after myself!
“Also, my current foster child, on his 18th birthday, changed his name officially to my surname. That was his 18th birthday present to me. So that was lovely. He’s a chef now. We spent a lot of time in the kitchen because he had a passion for cooking. He says that he knows his life is how it is now because of me. He’s just a lovely 21 year old.
When asked how she found fostering during Covid, Nicola had a very positive experience. She said: “I found it very good, the two boys who are with me now were placed two days before the first lockdown so we were able to have an excellent bond because there were no distractions at all. We just had the time to get to know each other, so actually I saw that as a bonus. We had lots of time to cook and just play games that you wouldn’t really have without any distractions. They thrived on that, just knowing it was us in the house. They are still with me now and the third sibling has since joined us and been with us a year now.”
When reflecting on her fostering journey, Nicola says how it has given her a new lease of life. She added: “I find it very rewarding, even though it’s challenging I look at how I’ve overcome those challenges. I also find it easier because I have FCA professionals who I can talk to at anytime.
“The most rewarding are the simple things, like a walk in the woods with the children. They’d never seen a cow before, they’d never been in the woods before and just seeing their enjoyment of life is lovely. It’s giving children a brighter future, I’m doing it to keep them safe, I like seeing the joy on their faces.”
Nicola reflected on her experience with FCA and gave some advice to anyone considering fostering. Nicola added: “I would say go for it! Just make sure you have a support network around you or even someone who can be there in an emergency. Just know there will be some challenges. Seeing the children excel at school, or passing their exams is lovely. One of the boys with me now couldn’t read when he came a year ago but now he’s exceeding. I know I've helped him to exceed expectations.
“I can’t fault FCA, hence why 20 years later I’m still with them. I know that I can ask advice and not be judged. I just can’t fault it, from the receptionist to the participation officers, it’s everybody really. I like their family ethos and 24 hour support.”
The right style of foster care for you
We provide several types of fostering to ensure we meet each child and young person’s requirements and match the foster children with the best type of foster home for their situation. Some children and young people may just need fostering for a few nights, while others need a more permanent family environment.
Welcome a child or young people who need to be looked after in temporary basics anywhere between 1 or 2 nights, a few weeks or months.
This is where you invite a child into your home on a long term basis, providing a stable family home to a child for many years.
Parent & child
Where a parent often a mother and their baby, comes to stay with you. Usually last for last around 12 weeks.
Thinking about starting your fostering journey?
24/7 local support, excellent ongoing training and competitive allowances are just a few of the reasons why you should choose FCA for your fostering journey.
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It all started with a small advert in the local newspaper, and almost 16 years later, Jill and Gary are still fostering. Jill chats about their experiences…