Rebecca and Gareth – TACT Foster Carers since 2014
Seven years ago, despite only being in our 20’s with two small children, my husband Gareth and I decided we wanted to foster children in care. Some people might have thought we were mad to take on that extra responsibility, but for us it was one of the best, most rewarding things we have done and continue to do, as a family.
We already knew about what was involved with fostering because Gareth’s father was a foster carer with TACT, so we knew which agency we wanted to contact and what to expect.
When the time came to finally have our first placement – two sisters aged two and six – we felt a little nervous. But we need not have worried. They were with us for two weeks during summer holidays and we had a lovely time together.
We are now long term fostering two boys aged 14 and 17. And because Gareth’s father recently retired as a foster carer after 15 years, we are also caring for his 13 year old former foster daughter.
A house full of teenagers can be challenging, but it’s good fun as there is always something going on. At first we were nervous about caring for teenagers, due to a lack of experience, but we soon found out it’s a great match for us. They are always open to new activities and experiences – we enjoy going rock climbing, go-karting, or just swimming in a leisure centre together.
Our birth children, who are now 8 and 10, also enjoy these family days out and making their older foster siblings feel welcome. I think fostering had made our own children more resilient and accepting of others. Our oldest Ruby was fairly quiet before we started fostering and now she is a confident, funny young girl. Our youngest Georgia has developed her loving, caring side and she always makes sure everyone is involved in activities. For us fostering is not a job. Our foster children are our extended family.
What I love most about fostering is seeing the progress in the children we care for. The change we have witnessed in the 17-year-old boy who has been with us for two years has been such a pleasure to watch. At first there was a lot of anger inside of him. He would go out without telling us where and who he was with, and when he was home, he would argue with us or just slam the door. He was missing time at school and wasn’t really interested in education. However, with time he began to trust us, and now he lets us know every time he goes out, calls us when he is running late, and talks about his friends with us. He is really engaging with college as well. During parents evening his tutor said he couldn’t believe the change in him. He has a built a particularly lovely relationship with Gareth, as before he came to live with us he’d never had a male role model in his life.
Thanks to the flexibility of our jobs, we’ve managed to stay employed while fostering; I work part time as a teaching assistant and Gareth runs a business from home. We appreciate that not many people are able to continue working while fostering, but the flexibility of our jobs means we are always on our toes ready for when times get challenging. However, when they do, I know I have an excellent partner and fantastic support from TACT.