Jo became a Foster Carer with Care Visions in 2014 with her wife Yvonne. As with many foster carers the journey began with lots of soul searching and discussions about what they wanted as parents and as a family. Over time Fostering came to be a major influence in how their family was going to take shape and when they eventually talked with Care Visions their dreams started to become a reality.
Your journey into fostering:
On the subject of starting their journey, Jo told us, “Yvonne and I looked at several options. We both came from big families and wanted to have the same experience in this chapter of our lives. Being a same sex couple, we looked at options like IVF and Adoption when it came to bringing children into our family. However, we felt that the approach and terminology used by Adoption agencies whom we met with, was not what we felt appropriate and didn’t feel child centred enough for us. We thought more seriously about Fostering and met with different Agencies and Local Authorities. When we spoke to Care Visions as part of this process, we found that they shared a similar ethos and values to us, focusing on the important things for children which were therapeutic, nurturing, and focused on the importance of being inclusive. This is ultimately why we ended up fostering with them.”
Supporting children and young people and letting them thrive:
Jo and Yvonne live in Stirlingshire, where they currently foster two children in long term/permanent placements. Supporting children with their needs and providing them a safe place to live was the most important thing to Jo and Yvonne.
Jo added, “We went into Fostering, not thinking that it would be for long term placements. Early on we did a lot of short-break/respite care, emergency placements, and work to support other foster carers. I am proud to be able to count and remember, every child that has come through my door, even if that was just for a day or two. In our first few months of fostering, we supported children from 6 months old to 14 years old. Yvonne and I feel that it was the different types of placements and kids from different backgrounds that really cemented us as Foster Carers, setting us up well with the knowledge and experience to take forward.”
What does fostering look like for you right now?:
Jo and Yvonne currently look after two children, ages 9 and 13 years old, on a Permanence Order. These children have been with them for 3 and 8 years respectively. During this time, they have been proud to be able to be part of major milestones within their development as they are growing up.
Jo shared with us about being there for them when they have a new experience for the first time and what that means, “ It could be eating a banana, riding a bike, going in a swimming pool or going on an aeroplane - there can be nerves, anxiety, uncertainty, worry, but ultimately with our support they are able to overcome those initial feelings and enjoy those experiences and build on their achievements. You take joy in sharing in these occasions and the joy on their faces. These are two children from different families, but with shared experiences. One of the most rewarding experiences is seeing how they interact with each other, sharing their understanding and compassion. Being there and supporting each other, through each others harder times, is really special to witness”
What does support mean to you?:
When thinking about support when it comes to fostering Jo shared with us, “Support for me is anybody that I can go to, that I can talk to about the kids specifically, people that understand the confidentiality of the work that we do.”
Jo spoke about her support network and how she has used them for help in conjunction with Care Visions, “We have gone to support groups from day one and established great friends who feel like an extended family. Through this there is support there for the kids, sharing experiences with other looked after children. It is really valuable to be connected with those who have an understanding of the challenges but who also want to share the positive elements, the good news and achievements.”
Jo added on this subject, “People might think support is about who can help look after the kids, whereas it is more about the emotional support for you and for them. We have had some challenging times in the past and we are thankful we have been able to rely on Care Visions and our wider support network to get us through it”.
What advice would you have for others looking to start their fostering journey?:
Jo kindly offered some advice on thinking about your own capacity and having a plan, “Starting fostering can be a scary step. Now that I have done it, I would never want to do anything else. Some people don’t want to talk about finances, but as fostering full time can mean stepping away from the world of work, it is important to plan ahead financially and know about Fees and Allowances which helps you work out whether you can do it”
Jo puts forward the importance of having a plan and asking questions when carrying out your own research, especially when considering an organisation as your fostering partner.
Instilling trust with the children and young people her and Yvonne have fostered has been vital and very rewarding for them. Jo said, “letting children know and see that adults can be trusted, and life can look different from what they have previously lived is important. Fostering is the most rewarding thing that I have ever done and is the most valuable use of my time.”
To request more information on fostering with Care Visions you can visit: Request Foster Care Information - Care Visions Fostering
For more information relating to Fee and Allowances in fostering finances with Care Visions please visit: Request Foster Care Information - Care Visions Fostering