Dianne's Story: balancing foster care and a career in teaching

Fostering Rotherham foster carer, Dianne, has been a foster carer for 3 years.

When she’s not educating Rotherham’s children in her role as a teaching assistant at a local school, she’s taking care of them in her home as a foster carer.



What inspired Dianne to become a foster carer?

Dianne has had a number of roles working with children. She originally qualified as a nursery nurse, after which she took up her current job as a teaching assistant. Working in a school with vulnerable pupils prompted Dianne to think about how she could make a difference to children once they’d gone home for the day. Parents had asked Dianne for help and she remembers that, “I thought, I could be this person, I could give … that support.”


When Dianne was able to offer a spare room to a child, she jumped at the chance to help her local community and says, “I’ve never regretted it to be honest.”


Combining work and fostering

For Dianne, fostering provides a chance for her to feel real satisfaction at being able to provide the love and care that a child needs and deserves. She reflects that, “I don't look at it as a job to be honest. I feel like I've got a lot to offer and I can give a lot back.”


Dianne feels that although teaching and fostering work well together, she does keep in mind the differences between them. “When I go to school, I'm in 'school mode' and when I come home, I'm in 'foster mode'. The two meet sometimes but I'm very good at splitting it into both categories.”


Although Dianne loves her job as a teaching assistant, she relishes the opportunity that fostering gives her to provide continuous support for a child, making the difference to their lives that only a family home can. She reflects that, “[At school] I'm just a number in a very big pool, whereas as a foster carer, you matter and the children matter. And if we don't make them matter, nobody else will. You know, these children at school, majority of them have got a family, whether it's good, bad or indifferent, but they've got the support of a family. These children have only got this one chance of us turning their lives round.”


“[At school] I'm just a number in a very big pool, whereas as a foster carer, you matter and the children matter. And if we don't make them matter, nobody else will."


When it comes to making both work and fostering possible, Dianne says, “I've always been quite firm on the fact that I work full time and you know, it's got to work alongside. Social work has supported that, you know.”


Dianne started out doing respite care, as she felt that this would fit best around her full-time job. Respite care can provide a great variety of experiences. Her first home match was caring for a teenager who stayed with Dianne three days per week. Then Dianne provided respite for another foster carer by caring for a 6-month-old baby for 18 days, which she says was a real highlight for her.


Our welcoming fostering community

As a single foster carer who also works, Dianne recommends having a support network of foster carers who can be there to help with childcare. She feels really well supported by the fostering community in Rotherham, both social workers and fellow foster carers. She has had a great deal of help from other foster carers, particularly those who live nearby. They have provided help with childcare in cases of school absence due to illness or have just been there for a friendly chat. She is also a member of her local Mockingbird Hub and has found the group to be a great source of support and encouragement.


Dianne’s most memorable moment

When asked about what she cherishes most about being a foster carer, Dianne says that, “I think I've had some effect in all the children's lives and I think every foster carer does.” She goes on to say that, “There aren't many children I have that don't make me cry at some point in a nice way. Even now when I'm talking about it. They are lovely kids, you know. The fact that where they come from and what you do for them is massive, absolutely massive. I wouldn't be without [fostering], it is like the best thing I've ever done. I wish I'd have done it years ago. I absolutely love it.”


“I think I've had some effect in all the children's lives and I think every foster carer does. There aren't many children I have that don't make me cry at some point in a nice way ... They are lovely kids, you know."



As she looks to the future, Dianne is full of ambition for the difference she can make to more local children’s lives and recalls what was at the very heart of her choice to become a foster carer - providing an ongoing family life, full of love, for Rotherham’s looked after children: “I think they've had enough moves, so that's why I do it. That's what makes it so worthwhile, you know, is the children I've got, they'll be life-long children in my life, I hope. If I can support them through getting married and knitting for their babies, then that's what we'll do.”


All names have been changed for safeguarding purposes.



Find out more about joining our fostering community

Has Dianne’s care story inspired you to think about changing the life of some of Rotherham’s looked after children?


If you’re an experienced childcare professional, like Dianne, you may be able to enter into foster care at skill level 3. You can find out more about skill levels here. We’d love to tell you more about what we do and answer any questions. You can book a call with one of our fostering advisers here at a time that suits you. All our call backs are confidential.