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Why Corrina and Stuart Love Fostering Older Children

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Corrina has worked with children since she was 17. Over time, as an early years teacher, she became increasingly aware of the huge gap between the haves and the have-nots and also of the difference it makes when children are nurtured.

Immersed in life

She said:

“I remember having a looked-after child in my class in the early 2000s. Developmentally she was behind many of her peers, but that all changed once she was fostered. Her foster carers nurtured her and gave her so many different experiences; they immersed her in life, and the progress she made was just incredible. Around the same time, I had a brother and sister in my class and got on really well with their mum. She decided to become a foster carer and I worked with her through the process. She was such an inspiration to me and I thought then ‘That’s what I want to do, I want to foster even if I just help one child’

We wanted to have our own children but couldn’t so we often talked about adoption or fostering. In our minds we were always more interested in the idea of fostering because we’ve known people who’ve fostered and we thought we’d get more support as foster carers than we would if we adopted.”

The decision to apply

The decision to begin the application process came in 2020… and it was Stuart rather than Corrina who took the initiative. Corrina explained:

“It was during the pandemic. I was continuing to teach key worker children, but Stuart was furloughed. He kept seeing adverts on social media from the National Fostering Group. I said ‘Go for it’ but I didn’t think he would. Then we got a call back I thought ‘Oh, you were serious!’ and we began the application process.”

Corrina and Stuart applied to foster with Fostering Solutions, part of the National Fostering Group. Although the agency wasn’t the first one they contacted, they hit it off immediately with the person on the end of the phone at Fostering Solutions and liked the mix of training and support the agency provided.


They were approved as foster carers in May 2020. Almost immediately they were offered two possible sibling groups – one older and one younger. Corrina’s first instinct was to choose the younger siblings because of her experience in teaching younger children, however, Stuart wanted to foster the two brothers, who were nine and 10 and needed a long-term placement.

Reassurance and nurturing

Corrina said:

“One of my colleagues who was a nursery teacher said to me ‘Just because they are older doesn’t mean you won’t use your skills as an early years teacher’ and she was absolutely right. It’s been a real eye-opener. For the first six months, I effectively created a reception class at home – we played with Playdoh and Lego and we sang the days of the week. The boys needed reassurance and nurturing every bit as much as the young children I teach. We start each day with a hug and in the evening we have snuggle time on the sofa and they tell me about their day.”

Working things out

One of the challenges the family faced was the boys’ sibling rivalry and extremes of emotion linked to their previous life experiences. Corrina said:

“I have siblings myself and there was rivalry when we were growing up but with the boys it is more visceral. We are helping them to work through it, it is a process. But I am proud of the fact that they are getting better about talking about their emotions and working things out through talking rather than hitting each other or running away.”

After six months with Corrina and Stuart, the boys began to open up about their previous life. Corrina said:

“Some of it was heart-breaking but we were very conscious of just listening and not reacting. They don’t hide who they are and what they have been through and that is one of the things I’m most proud of.”

Contact with birth parents

The boys have regular contact with their birth parents, and this can sometimes be challenging as they have different expectations to Corrina and Stuart regarding the boys’ behaviour. However, Corrina has worked hard to build a positive relationship with the boys’ Mum and this has paid off. Corrina explained:

“In January there was a campaign in the media about fostering. The boys’ mum had been reading a news article and she phoned me up and told me I was doing an amazing job. Before me, she hadn’t got on with any of the foster carers, so that was a really great thing to hear. I’ve make it clear to the boys that I’m not their mum and I’m not trying to replace her and that’s helped her to heal. She said to me that I’d given her her boys back which was amazing.”

Corrina and Stuart have completed a range of different training courses since they began their fostering journey, ranging from Therapeutic Parenting to Nutrition, which helps them to manage the eldest child’s ADHD symptoms.

Not perfect

Corrina said:

“We tell the boys ‘If you’re real you’re not perfect and if you’re perfect you’re not real’. They aren’t perfect but neither are we. We talk about our flaws so the boys learn that these are normal and acceptable. They are doing really well and I’m proud of the progress they are making. They are becoming teenagers, with all of the emotions that brings, so we have a strategy for dealing with this; everyone in the house has a 10-minute rest time when we sit down quietly and maybe read a book. This gives us the time to calm down and recover. We have consistent routines and at bedtime, I use lavender oil in the diffuser to help them calm down and go to sleep.”

So rewarding

Based on her own experiences, Corrina advises would-be foster carers:

“Babies and young children are very appealing but when you see your 11-year-old putting on a suit and tie to go to their Year 6 dance, it is wonderful. There are so many first experiences you can have with older children and it is so rewarding. I thought age three to five were the best years but I’m very happy to admit I was wrong.”

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.