TACT foster carer shares her first experience of fostering

Julie, TACT foster carer for TACT Fostering in the West Midlands shares her first experience of and tips on fostering in the latest edition of the Foster Families magazine.

My husband and I are short/long term foster carers from ages 0-16. We have fostered 26 children in six and a half years, including three who went onto adoption. We also adopted one ourselves who is now the youngest of our own children.

We have one long term placement (aged nine) who has been with us for three years and we foster two other children on a short term basis.

As a former nurse, our speciality is poorly babies. We have drug-addicted babies and very premature ones too. The babies are hard work, although it gives us great satisfaction when we see them develop into a "normal", healthy child.

Our first placement was a five-months old baby who had been severely disabled from being thrown against a wall by her parents. She was blind and brain damaged. When Sophia* arrived she looked about two-months old – she was in a terrible state. I spent the next five days walking up and down with her to stop her from crying. I was exhausted and when my Supervising Social Worker (SSW) came to visit us, she was appalled at the state Sophia had been sent to us in.

I was never prepared for the impact a brain damaged child could have on our family. I had no time for my three children who were three, nine and ten years old at the time. It was decided on day five that Sophia needed to be re-admitted into hospital. I was very upset as the social workers decided she would not come back to us as she needed specialist care.

That's when the reality of fostering really hit home. The training is fantastic, but you don't know what to expect until that first child comes through your door… Even now, we are still learning.

Julie goes on explaining her five most important tips; learning from other foster carers, involve your children, work well with your SSW, etc. Read her explanation, "Julie-Anne Jay shares her experience of induction", published in the Foster Families magazine, Autumn 2011.