Dawn – TACT Foster Carer since 2017
I’d wanted to foster children and young people for years, but for one reason or another I’d never started the process. I was motivated by the fact that I could be part of a team of people who would help to change a child’s life forever, by giving them the love and security they desperately needed. Eventually, I came across TACT. I liked the fact they were a charity, and made no profit from fostering – all their surplus income is reinvested back into the children. This helped to make up my mind and after the assessment process, I became an approved TACT foster carer.
Since being approved last year, I’ve had two placements so far – one on a respite basis, and another who is currently still with me on a short-term placement that may become long term. My respite placement lasted for 4 weeks – the child’s carers were going on holiday and she didn’t want to go, so I was more than happy to open my home up to her. As well as helping the child out in the situation she found herself in, I knew this would also be good experience for me moving forward; nothing teaches you more about fostering than actually doing it! The placement went well; I was really thankful that she respected me for who I am and we could respect each other. As she was my first placement I think we both helped and taught each other a lot!
I found with respite care that the best thing was to maintain their routines. I tried to keep things such as what time they could be out until, bedtimes and eating habits the same as what they were used to – children in the care system have often had very complex or troubled backgrounds so change can confuse or unsettle them. My other piece of advice to carers who have a respite placement is to always be observant and listen out for things the child is trying to tell you, even if they’re doing so in a disguised way. It’s only a short period of time that you get to know the child, but you hope you put your views across to them to help them as they move forward.
The North East team at TACT have been brilliant to me since I was approved. All the training I’ve attended has been excellent and I can’t fault the support I’ve received. All advice I’ve been given and discussions I’ve had with members of staff have been really helpful to me – knowing there is someone there to provide support whenever you need it is a massive comfort. Even during my assessment, I was helped and supported through it. The assessment was intrusive, but it actually helped me to realise things about myself from my own childhood that I wouldn’t have considered without going through the process – thankfully, I’d been prepared well for all of this by TACT.
My favourite thing about fostering is being able to help children in need by giving them love, guidance and stability. The feeling you get when you’re achieving this is indescribable – there’s no better feeling than knowing you have made a child that you care for feel loved, wanted and happy. Sometimes the hardest thing is being strong and supportive yourself when the child feels afraid or confused. After all they’ve experienced in their short lives already, I try to not let them see my feelings if I’m upset about something too.
Being a foster carer has given me more confidence, and taught me I’m a much stronger person than I thought I was. You get as much out as you put in from fostering – if you’re really committed to helping change the lives of vulnerable children and young people, it can be so rewarding when you start to see positive changes in them. I’d wanted to foster for 11 years before I eventually started, but I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason – I’m really glad I’ve started now and feel lucky that I get to nurture and care for those who really need support. All I can say to potential foster carers is go for it- no two days are ever alike and the difference you can make to a child’s life is so rewarding.
Due to consultations with their care-experienced young people, TACT have now changed the term ‘Respite Fostering’ to ‘Short Break Fostering’. Read their article Respite Foster Care: A Change Of Language.
Find out more about Short Break Fostering.