Tia was seven when her parents began fostering. Despite some challenges it was an overwhelmingly positive experience and many of the foster children are still in touch with the family to this day. Her parents are continuing to foster.
First taste of fostering
When Tia was 19, her maternal grandmother became ill and the family needed to arrange respite care for their foster child and Tia’s younger brother. It proved hard to organise so Tia became registered as a carer and stepped in. This was her first taste of being a foster carer and she loved it.
From then on, Tia knew that she wanted to follow in her parents’ footsteps and foster. However, her mum encouraged her to have her own birth children first and to pursue her career in banking.
A turning point
Tia was successful at work and rose to become head of credit control for a large energy company. She was commuting to London every day from the family’s home in Milton Keynes, leaving at 5am and not getting back until 8 or 9pm. The strain of work and caring for two young children began to take its toll. Tia recalls:
“One day during a boardroom meeting my breasts began to leak. My youngest child was not yet one. I left the meeting and started to cry. I thought ‘I don’t want to be here. I’m not seeing my children, I have no quality of life.’”
Not long after this, Tia had a serious car accident that meant she was off work for a while. This was to be a turning point in her life. It was June 2013.
Alliance Foster Care
“I was grateful to have survived and when I recovered I didn’t go back to work. I began researching local fostering agencies. Alliance Foster Care in Northampton stood out, both because of the level of training and the reviews foster carers gave the agency but also because of the programme of activities they offered. I liked the fact that activities were both for birth children and looked after children. The agency had outstanding reports.”
Starting to foster
Tia and her, then, husband began the application process in September 2013. They were approved in January of the following year. One of their first foster child – a girl of three – arrived soon after and was with them for 11 months. When she arrived she was still in nappies, not eating solid food and not able to walk very far. By the time she left she was potty trained and enjoyed running and riding on a scooter and climbing trees. It was a transformation and one that Tia’s two boys – who were similar in age to the little girl – helped to bring about by being “accepting, chatty and good at sharing.”
The following year, two brothers aged four and seven came for respite care. They arrived on Thursday and were due to go back to their foster carer the following Monday. However, a disclosure took place over the weekend which led to a change of circumstances. The boys remained with Tia while investigations took place. When it was decided that one of the boys would be put forward for adoption while the other would be fostered, Tia put herself forward for a permanency order. This was granted and the two boys – now 12 and 15 – have been with Tia ever since, growing up alongside her birth children, now 11 and 13.
Challenges and rewards
Tia believes a good foster carer needs to be loving, patient, consistent and fair. Since she was approved to foster eight years ago she has cared for seven foster children and each brings their own challenges and rewards. She says:
“One of the boys who’s with me now would never speak out when he first came. He didn’t know what he liked and didn’t like, he would look to his brother for guidance. Now he has his own voice, he has more confidence and knows what he likes. The younger brother was four when he came and didn’t understand what a cuddle was. Now he’s loving and affectionate. I am the boys’ world and they are mine.”
Tia is very happy with the level of support provided by Alliance and has wholeheartedly embraced her role as foster carer. There is a minimum requirement to complete three core trainings per year. In her first year she did 35 training courses and in her second 25. By year three she was moving on to level 3 qualifications, which took longer as they were more in-depth, so she completed 17 courses. She is currently working alongside the agency to create a support network for carers in Milton Keynes, following on from the success of the Northampton network.
“Becoming a foster carer is the best decision I ever made. I wish I’d started earlier. This is my calling. The numbers are astonishing – I read there’s been an 11% increase in children in care between March 2020 and 2021 and only a 2% increase in foster carers. If you are interested in fostering, find out about it. Every day you are chipping away at the barriers but at the end of it you can help a foster child become happier and more confident and fit into society and have a great life.”
Has Tia inspired you to find out more about fostering?
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.