Steve has been a foster carer since 2009, as part of a husband and wife team, and now as a single carer.
So firstly, I should probably explain that I have been fostering with Capstone since 2009, but with 2 separate approvals. Firstly, as a support carer in a couple and now as a main single carer. When I went into fostering 11 years ago, I took the step with my wife at the time and acted as her support carer whilst she was the main carer. Then around 5 years ago following our separation, I decided that I still wanted to do this and gave up my own job to be a full-time single foster carer and here I am today, still loving it.
If I am honest, fostering wasn’t something I was overly interested in when we first started looking into it, all those years back. I was quite apprehensive about the whole thing, but we took the initial step of enquiring, after a friend who fosters kept telling us how good we would be and recommended we contact, what is now known as Capstone. It was following our initial training where everything changed for me, when I realised what a difference, I could make to a child’s life, something clicked in me and I really thought that would be amazing. I thought that even if I can have a small impact then I wanted to give it ago… so we did!
I found the assessment part of the process informative and we attended a few more training sessions during this time which were useful. It helps to prepare you and we realised at this point that the agency is there to help you succeed. Then you head to panel in hope that you will be approved, you have a group of people asking you questions and we just answered them honestly and it made me really happy to get that recommendation and to know I was one step closer.
From there we began our real fostering journey, and this not only impacted us but also our birth children who at the time were in their mid-teens. Although we were all quite apprehensive at first, not knowing what it would be like with other children in the home, we quickly got used to it and the children embraced whoever was in the home to become one bigger family that all blended together. Fostering not only taught us a lot, but it also taught our children how lucky there were to live in a stable home. It really opened their eyes to what they have and their upbringing. I think it is great that they were able to reflect and see this as that will stay with them forever. It just worked for us as a family and the experience was great. We all felt very lucky.
Following my separation, where the 2 placements we had stayed with my ex-wife, I wasn’t sure what my future in fostering looked like. I thought I may have to resign but was told and encouraged to continue as a single carer, so I began the process to re-approval. I retook my training and assessment and went back to panel, which was a little more daunting by myself, but was approved again and ready to take in another sibling group. I decided to make some changes in my own life as I wanted to focus on fostering, so I left my job of 32 years in a factory to give me the flexibility and since then my whole life has improved. I went from a job with no real reward to doing something where you really feel like you are giving something back. It makes you feel good every day. It’s a win. I get to help others and feel good about it. I really believe things happen at the right time in life and this happened for me at the right time.
So, for the last 4 years I have been looking after a long-term brother and sister placement. It’s been amazing to see the changes in them both and I always love hearing the positive things people say about them and how well they are doing. To have that positive impact in someone’s life and knowing you helped them is the biggest payoff. I also still get to see the amazing girls I looked after with my ex-wife. It is all just better than I ever expected!
If someone asked me if I would recommend fostering, I would say, definitely, without a shadow of a doubt. The whole experience has been positive and the best thing I have ever done. Sometimes it’s easier to get caught up on an incident but you can’t, you always have to look at the whole picture and it has improved my life completely. I would also recommend you take that step with Capstone as they are there whenever you need them, and I would not want to be with anyone else.