Joy – TACT Foster Carer since 2012
My fostering journey started six years ago. I was working as a manager in a fast food restaurant and the company offered staff the opportunity to be seconded to work on a community project of our choice. I decided to work in a pupil referral unit which is for children who are not able to attend mainstream schools due to ill health or behavioural problems. The experience taught me how important strong and stable foundations are for children, and it provoked a desire to help more. One day I was driving to work and a TACT advert came up on the radio. It was like a sign was sent to me. I wrote down their number, gave them a call and started the application process.
The application process took eight months and I found it as thorough as it should be. In the meantime, I completed a teaching assistant course as I expected that children put into my care might need educational support and I wanted to be able to provide it.
When I finally heard I was about to have my first placement, I was over the moon. Two little siblings aged two and five stayed with me for nearly three weeks for a respite placement. I thought they were fantastic but I decided I didn’t want a respite again, I wanted a permanent placement. The children returned to their carers on Friday. On the Monday morning I went back on the register, and by teatime two wonderful children called Elisha, now aged 11, and Ethan now 9, walked into my life. They have been with me for nearly six years and are probably not leaving until they go off to university.
Elisha and Ethan are absolutely wonderful; they achieve everything they put their mind to and I am always 100% behind them. Ethan is two whole years above his age in school, while Elisha is in the last year of primary school but she is doing second year level Maths at a comprehensive school. They are both musically gifted – Ethan plays the cornet, piano and drums, while Elisha plays violin, trumpet and piano and they are both in a youth orchestra. They are also keen mountain walkers – together we have already climbed all the Welsh peaks. Last year we climbed Mount Snowdon and raised over £1100 for TACT, and we are getting ready to climb Ben Nevis this July.
They came to care due to severe neglect and abuse. I believe many siblings in care have learnt to rely on each other due to what they have been through and it would be difficult to separate them. Being together definitely helps Ethan and Elisha to grow.
I am a single foster carer but I have a great support network of my partner and my birth children. They are grown up and left home years ago, but they love to come back and spend time with Ethan and Elisha whom they call their brother and sister. In addition, I always have outstanding support from TACT.
I love everything about fostering. I love being able to help a child and I love the challenges. If anybody ever thinks about fostering, don’t think, do it. If your heart is in it, you can’t go wrong.