Retiring early led me to foster: Clara’s story
For 25 years, Clara* channeled her energy into social work. She made a radical decision that led her to a new vocation supporting the UK’s most vulnerable children
Clara always believed that she could make a difference. Growing up in a fostering household herself, she had developed a caring nature.
After years of applying her passion for helping others to social work, she was at a crossroads. It was time for a change.
“Ten years ago, I experienced a lot of changes at work and people were leaving, so I decided to take early retirement.
“I really admired the foster carers I was supporting in my role. They seemed very resilient and committed. I was always like, ‘Wow these are not your children, and you give them everything'."
I really admired the foster carers I was supporting in my role.Clara
“It got me questioning if I could do it. I’d always wanted to foster, I love children and working with them. So, a year on I applied with Action for Children.”
“I chose Action for Children because they’re a charity and because a friend of mine recommended them. She worked with the charity and had first-hand experience. I love the other foster carers and staff at Action for Children. We have a great relationship.”
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Comparing fostering to being a social worker, Clara said, “I can honestly say I have more time. Fostering has given me more time to do things with young people and be involved.
It’s given me time to do things that I enjoy with young peopleClara
“When I was working as a social worker, I was working from 9am- 10pm at night. Although fostering is a 24-hour job, it offers a good balance.
“It’s given me time to do things that I enjoy with young people. I’m doing things with the children that I love doing myself. We go to the seaside, theatre, or out for a meal somewhere. Most of my foster children love getting time to chat about everyday things.”
Despite Clara’s 25 years’ experience as a social worker, she felt that the foster carer training was invaluable.
“I would never think because I’m a social worker I know everything. Every child is different. You learn about their individual needs and triggers by getting to know them."
“I remember when my first child came there were times I had to think hard about why she was behaving in a certain way.
“At Christmas my foster child picked out some presents, but they were for children a lot younger than her age. The therapeutic training offered by Action for Children enabled me to understand why. It made me think back to her early childhood to understand her reasons.”
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“My role as a foster carer is about making a difference, whether it’s teaching them how to get on a bus or go to the bank. It’s developing and giving that child a sense of pride and care for themselves.
“It gives me extraordinary joy to see them happy and transform through fostering. I’ve always been about believing anything is possible. Like if they say they want to be a doctor, let them know they can do it.”
“Now I’m a foster carer, I’m always encouraging people to do it. It doesn't matter if you don’t have experience in the sector. It’s about having some form of humanity and compassion – that’s what makes a good foster carer.
“And do the Skills to Foster training offered by Action for Children. It’ll help you decide if it’s for you. It’s not for everyone, but it might be for you.
Our fostering team can talk you through the fostering process, including the support and training we offer.
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*Names have been changed and stock images used to protect the identity of the foster carer