Robert and Justine became foster carers 6 years ago. Robert said that choosing to foster with Rotherham Borough Council was never in question, explaining, “I wouldn’t have gone anywhere else”. The couple do task-centred foster care, which can range from a one night stay to up to two years while the local authority assesses what is best for the child’s future care.
Robert and Justine find this works really well with their busy lifestyle as they both work full time. Robert also explains that he enjoys the variety of children that task-based care enables the couple to help. At the age of 75, Robert feels that short-term care works well because it addresses his concerns about making a long-term commitment to a child. To anyone of a similar age who may be worried that they have left it too late in life to begin fostering, Robert points out that, “You have a wealth of experience to pass on to these children. Even if you haven’t had children, you’ve still got that experience of life and that’s what these kids want.”
“You have a wealth of experience to pass on to these kids. Even if you haven’t had children, you’ve still got that experience of life and that’s what these kids want.”
Advice for future foster carers
When it comes to the children in his care, Robert advises setting boundaries to give children clear and consistent expectations,”I never shout, but you have to be stern when you’re setting boundaries. They need that kind of reassurance to see how people really act”. Robert balances this with a great degree of empathy with the children he cares for, explaining that because of the children’s previous circumstances, “whatever they do, they don’t mean to do it”.
Robert relishes the opportunity to give children experiences that they otherwise wouldn’t have had, saying “I think it’s just when you do different things with them… when they do school plays and you go and watch them play football.”
The couple have also been able to take some of the children on adventures further afield. Robert recalls taking foster children to Corfu on holiday when they had not been abroad before, saying “When you can do things such as that it makes a difference to their lives.”
Ultimately, though, Robert feels that it’s the day-to-day achievements that give the couple the most fulfilment, such as seeing a child relaxed and happy in their home:
“When I come in and they’re sprawled all over my settee or cuddled up to my wife - which quite a few of them do - that for me, that’s great. When they’re settled in it’s absolutely brilliant.”
Support for foster carers in Rotherham
Robert has felt really well supported throughout his time fostering with Rotherham. He acknowledges that there will be times that are challenging, but points out “You learn by the difficult moments”. Robert has been really impressed by the in-house Therapeutic Team which he describes as “absolutely fantastic - absolutely fantastic - I can’t recommend the service enough” and praises the support of the therapeutic worker adding, “She just comes up with all different ideas and books to read and books to buy and that’s just the support we needed.”
“You always get support - there’s some really good training. it all helps you with your experience really.”
Training sessions are a great opportunity to make connections with the wider fostering community in Rotherham. Robert says “I always enjoyed doing it with other foster carers because you get some feedback… sometimes we have officers there as well, so you had professional people and foster carers and you were bouncing off each other.”
“You always get support - there’s some really good training. it all helps you with your experience really.
The best thing about fostering? Giving back to the community
When asked what the best thing is about fostering, Robert reiterated the value to him of giving back to the local community, explaining:
“You're doing some good and because we’re doing it in Rotherham - we're doing it for Rotherham kids - that to me is everything. I couldn’t do it any other way.”
Are you thinking of following in Robert and Justine’s footsteps and joining Rotherham’s thriving foster care community? Find out more about fostering with us by booking a call back with one of our fostering advisers.