Liz has been a foster carer in Reading, and looking after children, for 3 years now. Liz has a background of being a teacher, a nanny and a nursery nurse, and after feeling a bit disillusioned with her career path, she was searching for something different that still involved children.

Her brother and sister suggested she look into fostering, so Liz called up and came along to a drop-in information session during half-term. After finding out more about fostering, Liz applied, and went through a two-stage assessment process with our experienced fostering team.

‘I found it really thorough. Some people say it’s intrusive but I was really heartened by it. I’m really pleased that they spoke to my family about it as it showed that I was serious about becoming a foster carer and my family backed me up. In fact, even my parents were asking questions afterwards, like “Are we allowed to buy presents for the children?!”’

We were delighted that Liz was approved as a foster carer. She’s now even converted her house from a 2 bed to a 3 bed so she could look after more children!

‘At first I felt like I had to be entertaining the children all the time and I went in, all guns blazing. And by the time I’d cleared up and sat down in front of the telly, I felt guilty. But it’s fine! You soon realise what works and what doesn’t. You can still have lazy days, just as you would with your own family,’ explains Liz.

‘It was recently half term and after a busy week of activities, we made a big thing of choosing to stay at home, finding a film, making popcorn and getting wrapped up on the sofa in blankets, just as you would with your own children if you were tired.

One of the things I’ve loved the most is when one of the boys I looked after, who was in Year 6, went on to pass all of his tests. He hadn’t liked reading or writing and had been alright at maths. But in just two years, he turned it all around and it was amazing to hear!’

A common question that we get is how our foster carers deal with getting attached to the children they’re looking after. Liz says, ‘People always say, “How do you say goodbye?!” but it’s similar to being a teacher. You teach children for a year, and there might be some particularly demanding children in that year, but then they move on up to the next year, and the next teacher. Of course I get emotional and attached, I don’t think you could be a foster carer if you don’t. But I know I’m part of that child’s process and their life.’

And how does Liz find it as a single carer? ‘I tend to look after primary school aged children. This means I can get a break during the day while they’re at school, and once they’ve gone to bed in the early evening. It can be tiring on your own, but I’ve been so lucky to have a fantastic support network around me, from friends, family and my church.

I absolutely couldn’t do it without my support network, so make sure you get all your friends on board. I also get more respite care support, and am close to our community of foster carers so we’re all good at helping each other out.’

Any advice from Liz to our prospective foster carers? ‘Take each day as it comes! And have the confidence to make a decision. You don’t have a boss there to guide you all the time. You’ve got common sense, you know the child and you have to trust that you know what you’re doing and stand up for child. Find the balance.’