Darren – TACT Foster Carer since 2015
I have been a foster dad since 2015 and in that time my wife Debra and I have looked after six children and young people. We currently have a full house with three foster children aged from 5 to 15, and that is absolutely fine by me, as I love being a foster parent.
I work full-time with Legal & General, but my role is home based, and my employer has been very understanding and supportive of my fostering responsibilities. They allow me to work flexibly, which really helps with caring for the children. I was recently recognised for my contribution by receiving Legal & General’s ‘Inspiring Young People’ Chairman’s Award. Being a foster carer and helping young people is already very rewarding, so to be the only person to receive the annual organisation wide Award made me feel really proud.
Debra and I decided to become foster carers as we wanted to help children who could not be looked after by their birth parents or family. Our three kids are grown up now and I knew our family would be a great environment to look after children, and we were confident that any in our care would receive the love and support needed to develop and flourish. A couple of spare bedrooms also helps.
We chose to foster with TACT because we had heard through another foster carer how good the charity is. We were welcomed by TACT with open arms and we have a fantastic working relationship with them.
When we are expecting a new foster child to arrive, I feel excited but also nervous as I try to prepare, but until it happens you can never be sure of how it’s going to go. We try and gain as much information from the social worker as we can and ensure we have a knowledge of any safer caring procedures required.
Children in our care are welcomed into the wider family from the first day and are involved in all family activities and holidays. Our approach is to introduce ourselves and others in the house (plus the dogs!). We ask the children what they like to do, what food they like etc and tell them how they can talk to us at any time. We then like to take the children for a walk and show them the local area including any parks or play areas.
Over the years I have been a foster dad I have many cherished memories. It’s the simple things which I remember most fondly, such as going on days out/holidays and BBQs in the garden. My most recent one was watching the children all playing in the park together. They were all laughing and joking and smiling and forgot any worries they may have and were just being kids, despite having challenging backgrounds.
Seeing the children develop and gain confidence is hugely rewarding, and we have seen this with all our foster children which makes it all worthwhile. On the flip side, it can be difficult dealing with lot of third parties, social workers. LAC review, health care nurses, contact with birth family when some days you just want a quiet time. I wouldn’t say it’s a low point, but you have to make sure you have a planner to keep track of everything!!!
To be a good foster dad I think you need a mixture of everything including patience, love, responsibility, understanding and time. There are times you will question what you are doing and if it’s the right approach, but we have great support from our Social Worker at TACT who is always on the end of the phone and visits regularly.
My advice to anyone wanting to help vulnerable children, and have the space in their home and hearts, time and energy, then definitely consider becoming a foster carer. It’s not easy, but as I can testify, the rewards far outweigh any difficult times you may encounter.
Read about the different types of fostering you can do!