Colin and Shona – TACT Foster Carers since 2013
After witnessing first hand the success some close friends of ours had achieved through fostering, we decided that we wanted to provide a secure and permanent family environment for a young person who was in need of one and therefore decided to go for it ourselves. After hearing a recommendation from friends who had been with TACT for some time, visiting their website and speaking to various people within TACT, we began our fostering journey and were approved early in 2013.
Unlike a lot of foster carers, we have only had one placement since we became foster carers, which is now permanent. A young girl, named P*, came to us four years ago and has been with us ever since. She is now regarded as a family member and it’s difficult to image what life was like without her in the house! We’ve been very fortunate to watch a child of seven develop into a confident, mature young lady who is about to enter her teenage years. With never having children of our own, fostering has brought with it a lot of new experiences and being able to share these experiences with P, as well as simply creating and enjoying a family environment, has been our favourite thing about being foster carers.
You will definitely face some challenges as a foster carer – these will of course vary from placement to placement depending on the needs of the child you’re caring for. Unfortunately, many children who require foster care have experienced troubled and unsettled pasts and as such instilling confidence into a girl with low self esteem and poor regard for her abilities has proved a challenge. We’ve had to learn with how to deal with the inevitable setbacks along the way, and keeping matters in perspective. With having no children of our own, this was a totally new thing to us and an immediate change to our day to day lives. We were now on call and responsible for someone 24/7 which was a completely new experience for us. As P has got older we have learnt how to advocate on her behalf, for example with the school and local authority, as well as dealing with the stigma which unfortunately is still sometimes attached to children in care.
Our overall experience of fostering has been extremely positive, both for us and P. Fostering has given us a family life which we thought had passed us by, but more importantly P now has a more secure life and a positive future ahead of her with people who love her. The support and encouragement we’ve received from TACT has been essential to our success. The support supplied by our supervising social worker Linda Scott has been first class and all assitance we’ve received from the Admin Staff has also been greatly appreciated.
Deciding to begin fostering is a huge decision which should definitely not be taken lightly. We’ve been asked what our advice to anyone who’s considering fostering is, which is a difficult question as no two children, or foster carers for that matter, are the same. That being said, we’ve shared our best advice for what we think helps make a great foster carer:
- Think it through and be honest with partners and family members. Thankfully for us, fostering has made us stronger as a couple and we now actively do more things together as a couple.
- Develop a strong network of support around you – we’ve been lucky to have many friends, family and professionals around us for guidance, but also make sure you develop a network of other carers, people at the child’s school, doctors – and don’t hesitate to contact them when needed.
- Identify what you want to achieve and make sure you understand any sacrifices that you may have to make in order to help you achieve it.
- Think long term rather than short term development. Change can take time and is not always noticeable on a daily basis.
- Finally, make sure you enjoy it – fostering has transformed our lives and being able to give a secure and loving home to a child who needed it has made it all worth it.
* Names have been changed to protect confidentiality.