My partner Carl and I started fostering last year with Essex County Council, it’s something I feel passionate about and I’ve always wanted to do.

Before fostering, I was a paediatric nurse and mental health nurse for children and young adults. I got to meet families from all walks of life and I met lots of foster carers which really encouraged me to do the same, I wanted to help make a difference.

We have three children at home – Owen aged 13, Zach aged 10 and Lois who’s six, plus Daisy the dog! When Lois started school full-time, I was thinking about returning to nursing but my heart was really set on fostering, the timing felt right.

First, we had a family discussion about fostering where we spoke to the children about what fostering means and if they would be happy to welcome another child into our home. They were all on-board and excited, we wouldn’t have fostered if they weren’t happy with the idea.

Now we are a foster family for a child who was born prematurely with medical difficulties but he’s a very content, lovely boy and our children treat him like another brother. For us it’s been a really positive experience so far, and it has brought out the best in our children and our foster child too.

We have a busy house and the children have an active schedule of after-school clubs, so when we applied for fostering we were really open about our family life and what would work best for us. Throughout the application process we never felt pressured, it was completely up to us. We wanted to find the right foster child and age group that would fit in well with our family dynamic.

Having our own children at home hasn’t been a barrier at all, it’s been great to show our children what fostering is and how it’s a positive way of life for them now. My youngest, Lois, has already said she’d like to become a foster carer when she grows up! My son Zack told me: “I like fostering because it feels nice knowing we are helping children that need extra care.” 

From day one we felt fully supported by Essex County Council’s fostering team in the journey to becoming foster carers. The assessment process is so thorough that if it’s not right for you and your family, you’d know. The children also joined their own training course where they got to learn more about fostering and meet other children in the same situation. Carl and I have also felt supported by everyone – Family and friends, Essex County Council fostering team, healthcare professionals, outreach workers, social workers, and other foster carers that we’ve met along the way. We’re part of a big community and everyone is wishing us well.

We went into fostering holding zero judgement on anyone with children in care. I’ve not walked a day in anyone else’s shoes and, especially through my work as a mental health nurse, you never know what someone may be going through. What’s important is that children in care have a stable home environment where they can grow and thrive. We maintain regular contact with our foster child’s birth-family to support their relationship.

If you’re thinking of fostering, you’ve just got to make that first phone call and start the process. There’s lots of different, flexible fostering options to suit everyone, if you think it’s for you then go for it!

Get in touch to find out more, you can visit Essex County Council's website or call their friendly team 0800 801 530. They have fostering information events across Essex and virtually, where you can meet foster carers and ask any questions.