“We talked about becoming foster carers for about five years before we finally got going. A few things got in the way, like moving house and our youngest, Amie, was a baby,” said Jennie.
“The delay was good in a way because we did two lots of training with Community Foster Care and met other foster carers who were very encouraging and had loads of experience.
“We moved house specifically with fostering in mind and took in our first child five years ago on a 28-day emergency placement. It was quite scary because it happened so fast – we had a phone call, and a 14-year-old girl was with us within an hour. But she was absolutely lovely and stayed with us for four weeks. Five years later, she’s now got a little boy of her own and we’re friends on Facebook.”
Since then, Jennie, a former hairdresser, and Jason, a vehicle technician, have looked after children from the age of 18 months upwards - sometimes three at a time, and for any period from a week to two years.
“I was adopted so we weren’t fazed by the thought of offering a home to other people’s children,“ said Jennie.
“Our daughter Amie, now 10, looks forward to every new person who comes through the door. She is quite spirited and thrives on the company. She and our other two children, Liam, 17, and Thomas, 20, are great at helping out.
“Some of the cared for children have challenging behaviour but we have learned to deal with that, and there is a lot of support from Community Foster Care.”
For Jason, the best thing about fostering is when a child arrives with very disruptive behaviour and leaves in state of calm. “We do our best to make them feel part of a normal family. For some children, just sitting around a table and having a family meal, getting a shower and clean clothes every day makes a huge difference to the way they behave. It’s great when they feel at home.”
“Fostering teaches you patience,” said Jennie. “Sometimes you have to swallow how you feel and think about how the children are feeling, but there is no doubt about the rewards. Fostering is a good thing to do and has brought us a lot of pleasure.
“The best thing is the laughter – we try and have fun. When we see a child burst out laughing, that can be a reward in itself.