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Fostering is very rewarding

Case study Vicki parent children leaving for school 720x480

Vicki's* background is in childcare - she has worked in a nursery and considered becoming a childminder. "I have a son but felt that I could be a parent to more children. I was attracted to fostering because I wanted to be more involved than just being a childminder."

Vicki's fostering career spans 18 years and she has looked after more than 20 children. She took four years out in the middle to renovate a house so she could better accommodate the children she cares for.

When Vicki started fostering, she was a single parent with a seven-year-old son and working two days a week. "My mum became my attached respite carer. She lives nearby so would come to my house to look after the children. I took pre-school children as I find it works best if your own child is the oldest in the house. I love looking after babies and small children - for me it's like Christmas and birthdays all rolled into one."

Of course, being a foster carer has its challenges. "I'd sometimes have sleepless nights worrying about children who were going back to their family, wondering if they would be able to meet their future needs. I also had concerns for my own son - as he had to say goodbye to so many children he'd loved too."

Whenever one of her foster children left, Vicki would organise a special day for her son. "It's so important to make time for your own children. We'd have a lovely day together doing something fun, then regroup ready to welcome our next foster child."

For those thinking of fostering, Vicki feels it's important to consider if your family set up is resilient enough. "Fostering is very rewarding, but it can also be all consuming, so everyone needs to be fully committed. It's not just about the child you are caring for, it's the families, social workers and the teams of people involved with your young person's care, so it really helps if you have a solid support network around you."

*Name has been changed to conceal identity

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