Hello, I’m Jen Gibbons, and I have been on my foster carer journey for the past decade. Throughout this time, I have been proudly fostering children under the care of Family Care for the same duration of ten years.
What made you decide to become a foster carer?
Having spent eight consecutive years visiting Romania in the summers to work with the street kids there, we (myself and my husband, Damian) felt although there was a great need for children abroad, there was a greater need for children to be in safe, secure, and loving homes in England.
How did you become a foster carer? What was the process like?
The first thing we did was almost talk ourselves out of it…were we good enough, were we equipped to be able to provide and meet the needs of children in care?
We then looked at who we wanted to work with. Would it be local authorities or an agency? We also had to decide what was important to us as a family, a higher fee payment or support? Every time the Support was so much more valuable to us than money.
How long did it take for you to be approved as a foster carer?
Once we made the initial enquiry (we only enquired with one company), we were talked through the process, so we didn’t feel there was anything hidden later down the pathway.
We had a home visit, and then the process began. We enquired in March and were approved by August of the same year.
What made you decide to become a foster carer with Family Care?
As a family, we really liked the ethos, small agency (very much like a family) in comparison to others.
This meant that everyone knew us.
Also, the reassurance that regardless of the time of day or night, someone was on the end of the phone if we needed some support, and this was 24 – 7, 365 days per year.
I had to call for support at 3 am in the morning, and one of the SSW (Supervising Social Workers) spoke to me and was there to support me through that situation.
Also, the amount of support as a carer that was available was incredible. It just felt like a wraparound hug of care for us as carers. That support would enable us to be even better carers.
The training offered to us also was up to date, current and very relevant too.
What is the best thing about being a foster carer?
It’s an absolute privilege to be able to walk with the children on their pathway in life ( even for a short time) And see changes in them, even though they may well be small on occasion.
Love, support, care and encouragement to some children is all that they need, and as a carer, we have that in abundance daily.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to become a foster carer?
Firstly, don’t talk yourself out of it. Secondly, you probably will be good enough and, in this role, you are never alone. There is lots of support, knowledge and often endless cups of tea to be had with other carers who understand ..so just go for it. You could really bless a young person who just might need someone like you in their life.
Could You Foster?
The shortage of foster carers has a profound impact on vulnerable children in the UK.
Some children will find themselves living far away from family, friends and school, and being separated from their siblings.
Historically, 70-80% of foster placements have been within 20 miles of the child’s home. That means 20-30% of placements are more than 20 miles away.
It’s obvious that many children will benefit from maintaining their current school and friendship groups, but for others, a change is in their best interests.
The average age of children coming to live with our foster families is 10, so a change of school is imminent.
Nevertheless, every effort must be made to recruit new families in local areas with high demand. If you live in the Northwest or the Midlands and would like to explore becoming a foster carer, we can help.
Healing Pasts • Building Futures