Stevenage foster carer tells us why it's the best job in the world
PUBLISHED: 08:32 11 January 2018
With more people needed to offer loving homes to children in the care system in Hertfordshire, Stevenage-based foster carer Jacqueline tells the Comet why "it's the best job in the world".
Parents of young people who have left home are being called on by Herts County Council to consider whether fostering might be the way to fill the extra space in their homes and their hearts.
In Hertfordshire, there are just over 835 children and young people in care and many live with foster carers.
Each month, the county council receives an average of 55 requests for new foster placements, with more requests to place children aged 10 and above, sibling groups and those with more complex needs.
Jacqueline Carrington, 50, from Stevenage, and her husband David have been foster carers for 12 years, giving up full-time jobs to focus solely on looking after the young people in their care.
They are currently fostering three children, including a 16-year-old boy who has lived with them for 10 years and siblings who are 11 and nine years old.
Jacqueline said: “My husband and I were short-term foster carers for a few years before we decided to do it long-term.
“The siblings we were looking after were unable to find a home together and we wanted to try our best to keep them united.
“Our son, who was at university at the time, talked us into considering long-term fostering and gave up his room to make this possible.”
She added: “When I look back at the progress that these children have made I am so proud. That’s why I tell people I have the best job in the world.
“All the children who have been part of our fostering family have enhanced our lives. They have taught us so much about ourselves and have taught us to be curious and to think outside the box.
“We teach children to be kind, how to love and how to feel safe, how to be confident and to follow your dreams and never give up.
“In return, you see children who at the beginning didn’t know who they were and had low self-esteem and felt unsafe, thriving and blossoming into lovely young adults. What other job could give you that much job satisfaction?”
Empty nesters potentially make great foster carers because they’ve often already got the skills and experience needed to look after children and teenagers, whether this is for a short-term or longer-term period.
Jacqueline, who has a 27-year-old son and a daughter who died in 1999 when she was eight years old, said: “Christmas can be a difficult time when your children are away, but sharing your home and heart with someone else makes it special.
“Some of the children we have fostered had never celebrated Christmas. Simply sharing a meal with them, seeing the smiles on their faces, sharing a sense of belonging and a place they can call home, even for a short time, was magical. To me that truly is the spirit of Christmas.”
Teresa Heritage, the county council’s Cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Christmas is a wonderful time for families, but when your own grown-up children have moved on, it might feel like something is missing.
“Becoming a foster carer can fill that gap and, at the same time, help provide a child with the security and stability they desperately need.
“All children and young people need a loving and caring environment in which to grow and thrive. It is our aim in Hertfordshire to ensure everyone gets the best start in life possible, so we need our residents to help us transform the lives of children and young people.
“If there are any of our residents who can offer a comfortable, safe and loving home, we would love to hear from them.
“Fostering isn’t easy, but it’s truly rewarding and can make a huge difference to the lives of children in care.”
If you are interested in fostering, visit www.hertfordshire.gov.uk/somethingmissing.