Jacky – TACT Foster Carer since 2008
With my own children all grown up and into adulthood, I wanted to give a child in need a safe place to be, where they could learn the life skills that I had taught my own children and take them on into adulthood. My friend had been with TACT for some time and was full of praise for them due to the friendliness of the social workers and those in the office – based on this recommendation I got in contact and my fostering journey with TACT began.
I have mainly cared for children with learning difficulties which have ranged from minor to quite challenging. It’s fantastic to see them develop, their confidence increase and their decision making skills moving from quite worrying to me feeling confident that they would make the correct choices in situations I feared when they first arrived. I sometimes find it difficult when they turn 18, as I see they aren’t quite ready to go it alone. They have vulnerability that they carry through their childhood that can make living alone at 18 quite a scary prospect.
This sudden change which they experience at 18 can be difficult to witness, but in some cases like Chantelle’s it has led to a lasting bond being formed. Chantelle came to me at 13, and at first was difficult as she was my first ever placement. However, we got to know each other as the weeks and months went by and slowly but surely, she opened up to me about her past and felt as though she could trust me. Over the next five years, I was able to teach her to the best of my ability the life skills that she could take into adulthood.
Unfortunately, Chantelle’s leaving care team from the local authority did not support her in the ways she was promised upon her leaving the care system. As a result, I was more than happy to give the support she required when going it alone in the world. I helped her into her new flat and carried on teaching her about independent living – help she desperately needed but had been let down on by so many. She is now 23 with her first baby on the way and I’m extremely proud – I’ve found myself giving out lots more advice and help related to her pregnancy but I’m more than happy to do this for her.
The training supplied by TACT has been enjoyable and they have always been supportive whenever I’ve needed them. Thankfully, so far I have managed well and have learnt to grow with each child in my care, tailoring my care of them around their individual needs. I hope that I have passed on as much wisdom as possible that I gained in the years of bringing up my own children. It’s also a massive help to have a supportive network around you – I couldn’t have gone through this process without the support of my daughter who has always been there for me and has almost acted as a role model for the children in my care.
If you’re thinking about becoming a foster carer, you will need patience, good listening skills and be willing to teach. However, all this leads to a huge satisfaction as you watch the children in your care grow into confident young adults – I have loved making a difference to so many young people’s lives and hope I have made a positive impact on the lives all of the children I’ve cared for.