Jillian and Ronnie – TACT foster carers since 2013
My parents had fostered two children that were in need of a family when we were growing up, so I got to see first-hand the importance of fostering and the difference it can make to children’s lives. Once my own birth children had grown up and left the house, we knew we could offer a loving, safe and stable home to vulnerable children just like my parents had.
We fostered our first child in 2013. The night before he arrived, we were nervous but also excited. Would he like us? Have we got everything ready for him? Our first placement lasted a year and a half but eventually we had to concede that the child needed more professional help than we could offer him.
I was heartbroken and was considering my future as a foster carer, but the incredible support, reassurance and encouragement I received from my TACT manager and social worker reminded me of everything I had to offer and that I had done everything I could. Since then, I have fostered 13 children and all of them will always be a part of our family. Our first foster child reached out to me recently to let us know he is doing well and that he remembers us fondly.
We currently have four young people living in our home. Chloe has been with us since she was a shy, frightened 15-year-old who never spoke, and has now grown into an amazing adult who is studying to become a social worker at university. We also have a young lady who arrived five years ago and has grown into a loving, confident young woman who is planning a future in hairdressing. There is also a young lady who arrived a few years ago as a sporty, boisterous 11-year-old and has since massively grown in confidence and developed great social skills. Most recently, a young man who arrived as a 10-year-old during the 2020 lockdown who is a fantastic, funny and carefree addition to our family.
I’ve had so many proud moments throughout my fostering journey; being told on parent’s evening how much a child has grown, parents of their friends telling me they are welcome in their homes anytime and Chloe gaining her qualifications and fulfilling her dreams. But I think one of the proudest moments was one of the children asking me to adopt them. Every hug or “I love you” before bedtime or just an everyday “thank you” for dinner from every child I’ve cared for makes me burst with pride knowing that they feel safe and secure enough to express their feelings after everything they have been through.
Fostering has been such a rewarding and enjoyable experience. I love the normal day-to-day of family life, watching the children grow and mature and giving them the freedom and safety of a loving, nurturing family life where they have the space to just be kids instead of carrying adult worries with them.
Every child should be given the chance to be a child and grow and learn in a loving, caring family. Every child has the right to feel safe, protected and loved. In my nine years of fostering, I have learned that matching families with children is one of the most important ways of making sure a placement is successful. I have also learned that everyone needs somebody to be a source of support no matter what age they are, which is why schemes like TACT Connect that always leave the porch light on for young people are an absolute blessing.
Read more about fostering teenagers.