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We wouldn’t change a thing

Tuesday 12 March 2024

Jayne and Ken’s story

Jayne and husband, Ken began fostering 19 years ago when their birth children, from previous relationships, were 11, 13 and 15. They were inspired to apply after talking to a team from the National Fostering Agency at their local shopping centre.

The ideal time

Jayne said: “

Fostering was something we really wanted to do and it seemed like the ideal time. Our children were teenagers so they were becoming more independent and we felt they might benefit from being part of a fostering family. And they certainly did. One of the foster children, in particular, really bonded with our middle son. He was our third placement and he stayed with us from the age of 15 to 18. He’d had a troubled past but he’s now 33 and has two children of his own. We couldn’t be more proud of him. We are grandparents to his children.”

Jayne and Ken have kept in touch with nearly all the children they’ve fostered over the last two decades, the majority of whom stayed with them long-term including one foster child who was with them from age five to 18.

Children with disabilities

Jayne was particularly drawn to fostering children and young people with disabilities. This has been both rewarding and challenging, leading to some of their biggest highs and deepest lows as foster carers.

Tragically, one of their foster children – a young man with a life-limiting health condition – died at their home aged just 19. He had been with them since the age of seven and had transitioned from foster care to Staying Put. Jayne explained:

“This was a terrible and intensely traumatic time for us as a family. He had congenital myotonic dystrophy, which meant his muscles deteriorated as he grew. When he was 17, he developed aspiration pneumonia and spent a month in intensive care being intubated. But he recovered and had exciting plans for his future – he was going to college. However, he was prone to severe chest infections due to problems with feeding. Things took an unexpected turn and he passed away very suddenly and shockingly during the night. No one could have foreseen what happened.”

Fantastic support

The tragedy occurred two weeks before lockdown, which added to the trauma. Jayne said:

“The National Fostering Agency was amazing. I phoned my supervising social worker when it happened, and she just put her day on hold and came here to be with us. She made all the calls that needed to be made and just handled everything. The following day, the managers came here and told us that whatever we needed, they would arrange it. The support was fantastic. I had counselling and we were able to carry on fostering.”

Jayne had received intensive training from nursing staff when her previous foster child was in hospital, learning how to change nasal and feeding tubes. This meant she was able to care for other children with significant disabilities, and their next foster child – a little boy – came to Jayne and Ken straight from the hospital aged eight months. He’s now five. Jayne said:

“We were told he would never sit up or walk but he’s running around now and that makes me so proud.”

They care about people

The family recently held a big party when one of their birth children, who now lives in the US, came home for Christmas. Jayne said:

“The room was full of people we’ve fostered over the years, some of whom are now parents themselves. The very first boys we fostered were there, now 19 and 21. One of them said he still has his life storybook. We saw how they have grown into good, loving human beings and that is what matters. It doesn’t matter what they do as a job, it only matters that they care about people in their hearts.”

Positive changes

Jayne added: “Fostering has changed us as people, we are not who we once were. The National Fostering Agency has been our life for the last 20 years but, after our foster child died, there was a period when we considered leaving. The agency had always been very caring – they were great when he died – but during Covid they seemed to lose some of their focus on the foster carers, they weren’t so family-focused.

“We actually got as far as going to panel with a different agency, but we had a change of heart. The managers at the National Fostering Agency came and talked to us, they took on board what we were saying and they were so supportive. We’ve seen so many positive changes, I’m really glad we stayed. Fostering is not an easy job and without a really supportive agency you can quickly spiral. We care for very sick children and we need the agency to know our circumstances when we call and know what to do. There is a great new Registered Manager now and we have a fantastic supervising social worker. Their ethos is that you need to look after the foster carers you have rather than just keep recruiting more.” 

A life-changing experience

Jayne is keen to encourage would-be foster carers but sounds a small note of caution, saying:

“Be ready for a life-changing experience. You have to be willing to change your life for them and not expect it to be the other way around. Fostering is the most rewarding thing you can do with your life, alongside having your own children. There is no better feeling in the world. It can be really painful at times, but we wouldn’t change a thing.”

If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible, try our Can I Foster? tool, which answers common questions about suitability to foster, based on a personalised Q and A style format. The outcome might surprise you! If you’re ready to chat with one of our fostering advisors, contact your local team.


Find out if you could be a foster carer
Find out if you could be a foster carer
In a few simple questions, you’ll know if you’re suitable to apply to become a foster carer.