Kay started her fostering journey in 2009 with an independent commercial fostering agency (IFA). In recent years she decided to transfer to her local authority fostering service and has been fostering for Foster Wales Monmouthshire ever since.
We talked to Kay about her fostering experience and the reasons why she decided to transfer to us.
When did you start fostering?
K: I’ve been fostering for about 14 years now. Since December 2019 I’m with Foster Wales Monmouthshire, shortly before we went into lockdown.
What made you think about fostering?
K: At the time, I just stopped running a catering business. My children grew up and left home. I thought to myself, “what now?”. Then my son came to me one day and said, “mum, why won’t you do fostering?”.
It was something I’ve never looked at, and my son told me he thinks I would be really good at that. He encouraged me to make an enquiry and find out about it. After the initial home visit, I felt like I would really like to foster.
So, you started with IFA?
K: Yes, I did. When I first went into fostering, I didn’t really look at different fostering services, it all seemed the same to me.
How did it go and why did you decide to transfer?
K: It was fine, when I first started, it was great, then I just got disheartened for them. It was my friend who encouraged me to go and look at Monmouthshire local authority fostering service.
I went down and talked to the team, and I just felt that it would be a lot easier for me.
I had to travel a lot when I was with IFA, and Monmouthshire was more local to me.
I was with independent agency, but I was dealing a lot with Monmouthshire council. I was basically doing the IFA’s job, being a bit like a middleman in communication, so it felt like the best option to just transfer.
How did you feel about the transferring process?
K: The process to transfer didn’t take long, maybe a couple of months. IFA tried to keep me as I was with them for almost 8 years; they didn’t want me to go. But at that point I made up my mind about it.
I transferred with the children who were with me in IFA, I wouldn’t have done it if they didn’t come with me. These children are local to Monmouthshire area, they’ve been with me for 9 years. My goal always was to create a real home for them, not a temporary place to stay.
Once you transferred, what was your first impression of Foster Wales?
K: With IFA I had almost too many visits weekly; it was just continuous.
With Foster Wales, the support is brilliant, but I don’t feel bothered all the time.
It also creates better environment for the children, like a normal family, and it’s more personal.
Foster Wales provides all support I need, or if the children need anything, I have social workers always available on the phone, and this approach makes me feel more relaxed. Since I transferred fostering has been a lot easier.
Would you make decision to become a foster carer again? What fostering gave you?
K: If I was my younger self again, I would definitely do it.
The children who are with me now are here long-term. I wanted to create a home for them. One of them is going to be 18 soon and one is 13. Like with my own children, I’ll be caring for them as long as they need me; this is their home.
Fostering changes your life. What would I have done without doing this? It gives you a new purpose in life, and it’s rewarding to do. It’s challenging at times, but I’m glad I’ve done it and now I think that I should have done it years ago.
What is the biggest challenge of fostering?
K: I was quite lucky with the children that came to me, but there are always challenges. As a foster carer you need to be prepared that children can have variety of issues, traumas, and behavioural problems.
The younger children tend to listen to you and treat you like a role model, because they still rely on you with many things. Once they reach adolescence, they become more independent, have stronger views, and don’t think they need your help or advice. So sometimes you have to deal with a teenager who doesn’t want to come back home on time or who stay out late without telling you where they are.
The truth is they still need help but more in a form of guidance and emotional support. My life definitely isn’t boring (laugh); fostering keeps me going.
Do you feel like there is a sense of fostering community in Monmouthshire?
K: If you go to support groups, you can meet people and talk to other foster carers. You always have a choice. I often feel too busy to attend face to face events, but since Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown it’s much easier now to attend events online if I really can’t make it. So, there is this sense of community and I know it’s always available if I need it.
What would you say to somebody who is thinking about transferring to Local Authority fostering service?
K: I would say contact the team, they are very friendly, they can tell you everything you need to know and help you decide. It’s not an easy decision to make, but for me fostering became much easier since I transferred to Foster Wales Monmouthshire. For me it wasn’t a complicated process either, so why not to try?
Are you already fostering?
Would you like to transfer to us and join our incredible fostering community in Monmouthshire? It’s simple.
Choosing Foster Wales is a decision to work with real people in your local community, who put children’s and young people’s best interest at the core of everything they do.