Chrissie – TACT Foster Carer since 2016
I was first approved as a single foster carer in December 2016. I was motivated to start the process when a family member reached out in difficult times and a young person was at risk of being taken into care. I went through the process with my Local Authority and was approved as a kinship carer. A year later, I was granted a Special Guardianship Order but upon reaching the age of 17 the young person returned home to his parents. After reading an advertisement on Facebook, I applied and started the fostering process with TACT. Within a year I was approved and soon had my first placement.
The training from TACT helped me immensely. It gave me an insight into trauma and history, what some young people had to face on a daily basis and how it may have affected them. The training, named PACE, helped me to understand how best to support them and was a great training programme. As for therapy support group, each month myself and other carers are able to share our experiences and support each other. I have faced and experienced some difficult and challenging times but the support from TACT has been amazing, as they reassured me that I was doing a great job! Not only have they supported me in my foster carer role but they’ve also been supportive in my personal life too. There is always someone from the TACT team to help answer any questions or concerns. It is also useful having the out-of-hour support available in case of emergencies.
I have had two very different kinds of placements and I learned that each young person was different and had their own individual needs, due to how they coped with difficulties and trauma and how it affected them. The first children matched with me were 3 siblings in January 2017; it was very challenging at times and very new to me. In their first year they unfortunately experienced a family bereavement. Bereavement training helped me to support the young people at that difficult time and I was also able to share my own personal grief, sadness and loss of my father so was able to relate in some ways. On special occasions (birthdays, Christmas’ and anniversaries) we would go to the beach, where his ashes were scattered, and we would write notes, release balloons and each of them would choose their favourite colour rose. My favourite thing about being a foster carer is making a difference to young people’s lives, watching them achieve, grow and thrive but most of all seeing them smile and hearing them laugh.
I also have two grown-up children of my own who each have two children. We love spending lots of time together; holidays abroad, trips and days out, cinema, bowling and going to the park. My favourite place is my garden and, in the summer, we all enjoy the hot tub and our huge above ground pool. Both of my placements have been great fostering successes for different reasons. I know I gave and give my absolute all – these young people were and are family and my own birth family treated them as such.
The challenges I have faced at times include the bereavement process and trying to be supportive, as well as challenges from young people’s birth family, being influenced by them and then for them to move on to connected carers. I feel that fostering has built a better life for me and the young people because together we have shared different life experiences, managed them and learn to live with them.
I have gained so much training and experience at TACT and am able to put these tools into practice in my role as a foster carer to give young people a better life. My advice to people who are thinking about becoming foster carers is to do it! It’s such hard work but with the right training and support you could make a difference to these children’s lives.
Read more about fostering in The Wirral.
Read more about fostering sibling groups.