Retired teacher, Kathy, shares her fostering journey so far and how she feels privileged to be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of young people.
Throughout her life, she has been involved in education in some form or another, and now her passion for children and young people shines in fostering.
A renewed sense of purpose
Kathy felt she needed something more from her retirement. Throughout her teaching career, she worked with primary and secondary-aged children as well as those with special educational needs (SEN).
She’s always had a passion for creating positive change for young people and when she discovered that she could become a foster parent it was a no-brainer.
“I’m so glad that I started fostering. It’s given me a focus, it’s given me purpose. Having a role keeps me engaged and I get the opportunity to spend time with young people and that is a joy. I’m absolutely delighted that I became a foster parent.”
Challenging but rewarding
Kathy reminds us that being a foster parent isn’t always the easiest of roles but coupled with the support she receives from our local Staffordshire fostering team, she feels valued and ready to take on any challenges she might face.
“You know, there are moments when it can feel like a bit of a struggle but I know that I have people that I can call on for help. I feel supported, I feel valued and I know I have someone that I can rely on. My social workers have never let me down, they’re always responsive to anything I might need or ask for and they’re genuinely interested in our progress as foster parents and that feels pretty good.
“I’ve been working with Orange Grove for 16 years now. It’s been absolutely incredible.”
Advice for prospective foster parents
Kathy’s advice to potential foster parents is to remember to reserve judgement.
She said: “It’s very easy to be judgemental when a child comes into your care and they’ve had experience of neglect or physical abuse, even emotional abuse. It’s so easy but it’s imperative that you’re not judgemental.
"We don’t know what the lives of those parents have been, we don’t know their backgrounds or circumstances and it’s not our job to judge. Our job is to care for that child and to promote healthy relationships with their parents or other adults in their lives.”
She also said it’s important to expect the unexpected. “Think very carefully and consider the changes that you might have to make. Be prepared for the good and the bad to come at you fast. It’s demanding and tiring but it’s so rewarding.
“You have a young life in your care, in your hands, that you get to nurture, develop and help grow. It’s an enormous privilege to have that opportunity.
“Think it through, but if your heart’s in it, then go for it.”
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