Carers' stories

Dave’s story: a foster carer for 46 years

Dave (foster carer)

“I’ve been fostering since 1972, but before that my wife and I had been taking children from a local children’s home for days out for years. It wasn’t until my first daughter was born that our social worker suggested fostering.

“We didn’t start long-term fostering right away, it started with weekends and then short-term fostering for children who, for example, only had one parent and they had been hospitalised. The child would stay with us until they their parent was well again. A few years later we started fostering full-time.

“Since we started fostering we must have looked after a hundred children over the years. The majority were short term placements but there were also a number of longer term ones as well. It was my wife who wanted to get involved in fostering to begin with; she came from a large, very kind family. Her family once took in a homeless mother and her children and looked after them. For my wife it was natural to want to open our house to children in need of a home, even for a short time.

“To begin with, we only had one or two children placed with us. But then in the eighties there were times when we had eight children in the house! I suppose that may seem daunting but it’s just like when you have a second child- it all falls into place. From the nineties onwards, as regulations changed, we looked after fewer children at any one time.

“Having foster children in the house gave our children a great deal of life experience. I know they gained a lot from sharing their lives with foster children. Their teachers would often comment on how empathetic and caring they were. One of my children has also gone on to become a foster carer.

“In 2012 my wife passed away suddenly, and at the time we were caring for two girls long-term, one aged 10 and the other 16. Fostering as a single man is not something I ever envisaged or thought about.  To be honest, after my wife died I didn’t think I would be able to carry on. Social workers from Southwark Council spoke to the children and I was glad to hear they both adamantly wanted to stay with me. I’m glad I have been able to finish what my wife and I started. We promised to look after them until they were 18, giving them the love and skills that they needed to live purposeful and independent lives. The elder of the pair has now turned 18 and she has moved on and the younger one, who has special needs, is hoping to stay with me post-care.  

“Fostering has changed a lot over the years. There are more regulations now than there was when I first stared, as there should be.  There is also more compulsory training; the most recent that I did was about child development and how to keep better records, which is all really important.

“As many people say, fostering is a vocation not a job and it’s with good reason. Fostering is not nine-to-five. The best thing about fostering is seeing a child grow in confidence and leave care full of self esteem and making a go of life. Many of our foster children have gone on to get good jobs, stable partners, bought homes and have children of their own.

“To anyone thinking of fostering, I say go for it. Your life will be enriched and you will be helping a child who really needs it. Yes, it’s hard at first but you get oodles of training and lots of support.”

Page last updated: 30 June 2022

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