Nina and Nick are based in the North and specialise in Parent and Child placements, they have been with Capstone for many years and are enjoying fostering. Read their story here.
Nick and I started fostering nine years ago, we looked into fostering when our son was around 14 but held off going any further until he was around 18, this time in our life was better suited to focus on starting our fostering journey.
Our home is big and since our children had flown the nest, we wanted our home to be filled with children who we could care and provide a loving home for. After talking to a close friend of ours who also fostered, she recommended getting in touch with Capstone and starting the application process.
I worked as a contact officer for the local authority and had been told on numerous occasions that I would make a great foster carer. I enjoyed working with the young parents who I had to support. Luckily for Nick and me, we had very supportive parents which unfortunately some of the young parents who I worked with did not have. I really enjoyed supporting the young parents and helping them become great parents but seeing them go back to their chaotic home lifestyle with no support was hard to watch. This is one of the main reasons why we specialise in parent and child placements, we want to continue to provide extra support to young parents to enable them to start living independently with their child and start a family of their own.
When we told our close friends and family that we were going to start fostering, they were so happy for us because they knew we had been wanting to do this for so long. Our extended family were a little confused when we told them about our plans, they assumed because our children had left home, we would be spending our time doing other things, not looking after more children! Overall, everyone has been so supportive, and we could not ask for more than that.
Our daughter and son have always been on board with fostering, our daughter is now a manager of a children’s home and understands the need for foster carers. We feel she went down the route of working with children as she has experienced being around children in care. She is very good at what she does, and we are so proud of her.
When we received the phone call about our first placement which was two young children, we were extremely nervous, and it felt a bit daunting waiting for them to arrive. To calm ourselves down, we reminded ourselves that the children are coming to a new home which they had never been to, so they must be feeling more nervous than us! We have always been short term carers and the one question that people always ask us is, how do we give the children back? Of course, it is sad seeing them leave but we have done our part in their journey by providing a stable and loving home.
When we registered to become foster carers, we knew short term fostering would be the best option for us as it allows us to have time with our own family and grandchildren. We also have family in Australia, so it gives us a chance to take breaks and visit there. Although, we are short term carers, we have had foster placements which have lasted a few years. That is the best thing about fostering as a career, we can choose placements which fit our lifestyles and work around our family life. If anyone reading this is in a similar situation to ours and are interested in short term fostering, there is always a need for short term carers, children always come into care on a short term basis whilst the local authority decides on their care plan. It is fantastic to know you are providing a secure environment for when they need it most.
We have had a variety of placements, from little ones all the way to teenagers but now we specialise in parent and child placements. After we had cared for around six parent and child placements, we got in touch with Capstone and asked if we could become specialised in this type of placement because we knew with our experience with working with young parents previously we could make a real difference to many young people who are placed into foster care. The parent and child placements are intense initially, but they are different to other fostering placements, we really enjoy them, and it is amazing to see the changes we make with the parent and child. During the placement, we must evaluate the parents care they give to their own child and help by providing them guidance, going back to basics with them and encouraging them every day.
All the parents we have cared for have been young mums, it is nice to know you are helping them to go on to independence and start a family of their own. It is fantastic to know the mums do not want to leave at the end and they are happy living with us and having had that extra support to move on together. We have had a parent and child placement with us for the last 12 months and through lockdown. Luckily, the weather has been good, and we are blessed with a large garden, so it has been nice for us all being outside!
The best thing about fostering is hearing the children and young people laugh, sometimes they take months or even years to do that. We looked after an 8-year-old and 12-year-old siblings, the older boy was so serious and clearly had been the carer for his sibling for a very long time. He got on well with our nephew and when we had taken them all on holiday and were in the car, we heard him proper belly laugh for the first time. It was so nice to listen to, even to this day the memory brings tears of joy to our eyes.
We kind of had an idea what fostering would be like because of my background of working with the local authority and seeing what is involved from the social workers point of view. From seeing things from that perspective for six years, we felt prepared for what was to come our way. Fostering can shock you but it can also bring the loveliest moments and children into your life.
We are so glad we started fostering, the support from Capstone has always been amazing and from the experience I have had working in local authority, I have seen how hard it can be to get hold of your social worker, that definitely hasn’t been the case with Capstone. This is one the reasons why we decided to apply with an independent fostering agency because we knew they would be there for us 24/7, 365 days a year.
We attend a lot of the support groups, and at first it can feel isolating as coming from working in a team office environment to working from home was hard to get used to. The support groups are great to help build confidence and chat to other carers and find out their stories, they make you feel supported and valued.
I am now a peer mentor for new foster carers who have been approved, I usually help around three sets of carers throughout the year by getting in touch with them before they are due to go to panel and just help stem any of their worries about the panel procedure and reassure them about the day. It is nice to know you are there to help answer the little questions that they may feel daft asking their social worker about. I also keep in contact with them throughout the year, so they know they have someone to lean on if they need extra support.
We have loved our fostering journey so far and we cannot wait to continue it!