Jane and Andy have been fostering for 12 years, and they joined the Calon Cymru Fostering family in 2008.
Both were in full time work when they started fostering, Andy as an Army Officer and Jane the Principle at a water sports centre. Jane has since been able to give up work to become a full time Foster Carer.
It was speaking to another Foster Carer that made them start thinking about fostering. Jane explains, “Andy was kayaking with a group of people as part of his army day, and the instructor was telling Andy that he was a Foster Carer and how much he enjoyed that role. Andy came home and told me all about the fostering experience of the kayak instructor and we thought it would be something we could do.”
But it wasn’t just them that would be affected. Both had children from previous marriages, and Jane’s 13 year old daughter was living with them when they made their application.
“We discussed it thoroughly with my daughter and ensured that she was part of the process throughout the whole assessment, we foster as a family. We have had some challenging placements over the years, and I had always reassured her that she would be our priority and that if she felt unsafe or unsure at any time, she could talk to us or our Supervising Social Worker and we would all work together to solve the problem.”
Whilst the experience has on the whole been positive for Jane and her family, it hasn’t been without its challenges which is why support is such a big factor when deciding which fostering path is right for you.
“We receive support from Calon Cymru on a daily basis. Some of our foster placements have had challenging behaviour and have run off or been in trouble with the police. My calls have always been answered, even at 02:00 in the morning! I have never felt alone, and it has made our job easier knowing this.
“My daughter has spoken to a member of staff when she felt she had difficulty with one of our placements, and was put at ease and made to feel that is was okay to feel the way she did.”
The experience has even led to Jane’s daughter, who is now 25 and a Sessional Worker with Calon Cymru, pursuing a career in childcare. She has a degree in Education and a forte for additional needs and behaviour issues.
Jane’s top tip if you’re thinking about fostering with birth children is to make sure you’re all in it together:
“Ensure that you are fostering as a family. Discuss it fully with your birth children, whether they are adults or children. The process can be invasive, and everyone that lives in the house will be affected by the journey into fostering. It is doable, and it is rewarding.
“For us, fostering as a family has ensured we have grounded, empathetic children who are excellent parents to our grand-children, and we value their support on our fostering journey.”