Fostering case study

Barnardo’s fostering agency

Barnardo’s fostering agency - Credit: Archant

Janet (52) and Steve (59) from Doncaster, the parents of three grown up girls, foster a 13-year-old boy called Simon.

They had thought about fostering for a few years before taking the plunge. Janet’s brother fostered teenagers so the couple has seen the benefits fostering can bring to a young person, as well as the rewards and challenges experienced by foster parents.

When Steve was made redundant from his job at a distribution firm, the couple decided to look more seriously into the possibility of fostering. “I was in and out of work and wasn’t really happy with the jobs I was doing,” says Steve. “I wanted to do something that made a difference to someone else so we thought about fostering. We’ve always had lots of kids around the house and had seen Janet’s brother fostering so we had an idea of what it involved. I started doing some research into the various agencies and came across Barnardo’s. What drew me to them was the matching process. It was important to us that we were matched right with a child so there was less chance of it breaking down. We knew we were taking on a big responsibility and we wanted to get it right. “

Steve called Barnardo’s and one of the friendly fostering team came to see the couple. After three months of assessments, the couple were approved by the Barnardo’s panel as foster carers.

The couple were told about a ten-year-old called Simon who was in short term foster care and needed a longer placement.

Janet said: “We met Simon with his current foster carer. They came over for tea. It was a little bit awkward at first as you’d expect. We’d laid the table for tea, then we all went and sat down in the front room. We chatted for a while and then there was this almighty crash. Our dog had pulled the table cloth, and everything on the table, on to the floor! Simon giggled his head off. It really broke the ice.

“To be honest we’d read a profile of a child that sounded quite challenging in some respects. But then we met this cute, bonnie little lad. My heart went out to him,” says Janet, who works part time with adults with learning disabilities.

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“We took to him and he seemed to take to us. He asked his carer when he could see us again as soon as he left which was a good sign he liked us.”

Steve says they knew fostering wasn’t going to be easy. “We’d seen some of the challenges that Janet’s brother had had with foster children. But I like a challenge, I don’t like to be beat. “

After moving in with Steve and Janet three years ago, the relationship between Simon and Janet and Steve has become a strong one. Steve and Simon particularly are close and have a strong bond.

Steve said: “There have been many highs – and challenges, that goes with being a parent. Simon started to open up to me after a while and talk to me. He started to feel like he could trust me and that’s something special. We have a strong bond. We enjoy fishing together and talking about things. I think of him as having two families now – his birth family and us, we’re his family too, we care for him and look out for him. The hurt is always there with a fostered child but I tell Simon that we picked him, we absolutely wanted him. It was quite something when he told me ‘ this is the best place I’ve ever lived.’ I thought we must be doing something right! “

Barnardo’s fostering agency can be contacted on 0113 2631464 or at

• Barnardo’s is looking for people with patience and commitment to provide a stable home for the most vulnerable children in the care system, in particular those aged 10 and over; children from a BME background; sibling groups; disabled children

• The numbers of children in the care system in the UK has risen for the 7th year in a row to 90,000 – making the need for more foster carers critical

• There are not enough foster carers to care for vulnerable children - current calculations estimate 9,000 more are needed across the UK

• Barnardo’s believes every child has the right to a stable and happy childhood - without a permanent foster family these children miss out on the care and stability they so desperately