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‘It’s the Little Things’ – Why Sam and Terry Transferred to Jay Fostering

Wednesday 02 March 2022

When Sam and Terry began looking into becoming foster carers in 2013, they hadn’t heard of private fostering agencies. They applied to their local authority and were approved six months later, in May 2014.

Sam, who’d worked alongside children with challenging behaviours, had wanted to foster for many years but they decided to wait until their daughters were older before starting the applications process. When they applied, their youngest was 10 and their oldest – 18 at the time – had already left home. Both girls were supportive of the decision and the youngest was excited about having new people to play with.

Enhanced support

Sam was still working part-time, so they were approved to foster one child – a girl who was similar in age to their youngest child. Although they enjoyed fostering, over time they began to want a higher level of support. Sam explained:

“Sometimes our foster child wouldn’t come home and we’d have to ring the out of hours team. We’d speak to whoever was on duty and often they didn’t know us or our foster child and that was hard. I wanted more regular supervision, too. A friend fosters with Jay Fostering in Northampton and she recommended them.

“We liked the fact they are small and family-focused and offer a high level of support. We made enquiries to several different agencies and asked other foster carers what they thought. Everyone always spoke very highly of Jay and when we found out that someone who worked there was a person we’d worked with closely in our local authority, that clinched it and we decided to switch to them.” 

In 2015 they began the assessment process again and they were re-approved in February 2016. Sam said: “By this point I felt that fostering was my life and I didn’t want to continue with my job. We were approved for three foster children rather than one. We already had a foster child who’d been with us for two years at that point and she remained with us when we switched.

“We also took on two sisters less than a year apart in age. My daughter was 13 at the time and one of the siblings was 13 and the other was 12.”

A positive move

The move to Jay proved extremely positive for Sam and Terry. Sam said: “The agency’s been amazing and we’ve never looked back. They are an important part of our support network and nothing is too much trouble. As a foster carer it’s the little things that make the difference – getting a call back when you need one, speaking to someone you know when your foster carer’s away… Jay provide this and they also have regular events for children of all ages and support for both foster children and birth children.

“If you need additional input you can get it and we value that. The training is good, too. I’ve done 30 hours of training in the last 12 months ranging from therapeutic parenting and de-escalation through to data protection and knife crime.

“We have monthly support groups and, even though our girls are getting older now and don’t always want to go to the social events, there are workshops for teenagers that are arranged at a time so they can fit them in around school. I 100% recommend them.”

The young woman who remained with Sam and Terry when they moved over from the local authority is no longer with them but, alongside the two siblings, they now have an 18-year-old who is staying short-term until she is ready to live independently.

Good boundaries

Sam believes that patience, love and good boundaries are all essential for foster carers. The young girls who came to them in 2016 are now 16 and 17.

“When they came to us, aged 12 and 13, their school attendance was 40%. They smoked and drank and were out all hours. One could be very destructive and used to smash things in the house. We established a regular routine, we sit down to eat dinner together and we have rules about mobile phones in bedrooms.

“They are now at a local school and we’ve helped them with basic skills such as cooking and personal hygiene. Their school attendance record is 100%. One of them wants to be a nurse and is studying health and social care. The other is at college doing GCSEs.”

Foster Carers of the Month

Sam and Terry were awarded Foster Carers of the Month in December 2021 for their work with the girls.

“There are so many great rewards with fostering – seeing the girls flourish and looking healthy and well. Terry and I are a team and our daughter has also played a really important role in supporting the foster children. It can be tough if a child doesn’t come home. It feels like a piece of your heart is missing.

“And sometimes you can feel like a pincushion when they take things out on you, but we discuss things afterwards and move on. Sometimes you have to learn to walk away and that’s really hard.”

Start the journey

To novice foster carers, Sam advised: “Have your boundaries and don’t let them slip. They may not like it at first because they haven’t had boundaries but foster children need structure and you will see positive outcomes in the end. If you’re thinking about fostering I’d say, go for it even if you start off just doing respite. Start the journey. You won’t know until you try.”

National Fostering Group is the largest independent fostering agency in the UK, with more than 3,000 foster carers across the country. This means we can offer better support and training than any other provider in the country, helping you be at your best in this important role. Visit your local independent fostering agency page for more information or get in touch using our form.


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Find out if you could be a foster carer
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