Every year the Foster Care Fortnight campaign aims to raise awareness about how fostering transforms people’s lives and to celebrate the fostering community.
This year, Foster Care Fortnight is between the 11th May - 24th May and hopes to convey a varied and authentic picture of the contributions of the people involved in fostering and how foster care can transform the lives of children and young people across the country.
We asked our foster carers and fostering service about their experience in the fostering community...
I can honestly say fostering has had a big impact on my life. Dave and I knew very little about fostering years ago. It was only when I read a report about a well-known case, that I started to research what fostering was all about. We contacted Wigan Council and were interviewed and sent on a skills to foster course.
I can still remember the first young person we fostered. Fostering is a lifelong journey you go on and it has its highs and lows, but essentially it has been a rewarding experience. The reward is when the young person can come out of their own experience and go on their own journey. Most of the young people we have fostered have gone on to lead productive lives and we have been fortunate to know that most of the young people who have had their own children, have not come into the care system. I can say that this is the greatest reward.
The message we hope we have given them is that we would always be there for them, even when they have moved on. They may leave, but not to be too sentimental, they will always be in my heart.
Ruth and David's experience
Fostering has changed our lives in many ways. Most of all it has brought us joy knowing that we have been able to care for children who have needed the stability and love of a family setting at a difficult time in their lives.
We hope that the lives of the children we look after are changed for the better as they gain experience of family life, love and values, which will hopefully stay with them as they grow into young adults.
I came into fostering after bringing up my two boys as a single parent. I wanted to help love and support children who haven't had a stable home life due to abuse, loss or trauma. I wanted to make my home theirs for as long as they needed us, and provide a happy, warm and safe environment. I always listen to them and give them new opportunities and skills for life. Each child has their own needs and challenges, so each day is so different, but I wanted to make a difference to them and hopefully for their future lives too.
Fostering has been the most rewarding thing we have done. Yes, it has its challenges at times, but the rewards totally outweigh the challenges. Seeing the child thrive, grow in confidence and come through some of the most unbelievable situations they have faced in early childhood, makes us proud of the things they achieve. Especially the things we take for granted! I used to be quite reserved, but I quickly learned to be a strong advocate for the children in our care. Just seeing them smile, relax and enjoy the experiences you provide for them makes our heart melt. It’s amazing seeing the sparkle back in the children we care for and I wouldn’t change a second of it.
When I first started fostering, I jumped in at the deep end and invited a challenging teenager to come and live with me. We both went through ups and downs, but the positive rewards far outweigh the difficult times, both you and the child may have to go through. The reward of seeing a lost teenager grow and develop to become a strong independent young lady is inspiring. She is now 20, has a job, her own place and is doing well for herself. She is still part of our family and it has been an amazing experience.
Jill, social worker
As a social worker, I hold foster carers in the highest esteem, and I respect their dedication and commitment to caring for the most vulnerable members of the community. Foster carers have big hearts and open minds, and the children and young people they offer a home to may not always remember or respond to what they say but will always remember how they made them feel. I have supported foster carers for 17 years and know the experience of being a foster carer is rewarding and life changing, not only for them, but for the children they care for. The support they give to them allows children and young people to experience family life, which may not have been available to them prior to being fostered. Supporting foster families on their journey has inspired me to want to become a foster carer myself in the future. It would be an honour to join these amazing people in the fostering community.
Lorraine, Advanced Practitioner
Fostering is like no other job. It requires commitment, determination and strength, but the rewards outweigh anything you experience in any other role. You are changing lives, empowering people and achieving new things every day, which is what makes it so worthwhile. You learn to take the rough with the smooth, pick your battles, and in return you can see that you are making a difference to a young person’s life. Fostering is not a job, it becomes a way of life.