Nina Kelly


Nina Kelly

My Fostering Journey

I’ve known you for many years now but tell our readers something about yourself other than your interest in fostering.

My name is Nina, I just turned 50 in January, and I’m engaged to Harry. I have a son Finley and the real love of my life is Ted, my 4-yearold cockapoo.

Why did you consider fostering and what in particular were you most concerned about?

When Harry and I got together 6 years ago, we both talked about our desire to foster children and offer a home to a little one that maybe hasn’t had it easy in life. Once we bought a house and moved in, I made the call, but we had to wait a year as we needed to keep our spare room free for Harry’s son who was only 17, so fostering was put to the back of our mind.

The following January, FCA (Foster Care Associates) called me again and asked whether we were still interested, I jumped at it and the next thing we knew we had a Social Worker sitting in our home explaining the process, the highs and the lows and everything in between.

We agreed we would like to go ahead with the process but then Covid set in with the lockdowns associated with that and we thought, well that’s the fostering on hold, but surprisingly we were assigned a social worker to take us through the steps to fostering, and we completed everything remotely.

The process took us about 8 months of weekly 2 hour sessions and additional homework. In a way, we felt the lockdown was a blessing for us as we would have found it hard to squeeze in these meetings and both work full time. We went through the panel on the 20th November 2020.

Due to lockdowns, a child wasn’t placed with us until the following February, this gave us loads of time to do all the online mandatory training. Because I had spent almost 30 years in hospitality before this, I completed every training module I could to ensure that I knew everything I could, before a little one came to stay with us.

My main concern when we decided that this was to be my new career, was the challenging behaviour I may face and also the possible allegations that can sometimes accompany that: plus no one tells you how much you will cry!

Fostering is a huge commitment not just for you but also for your immediate family and friends so how did they react when you told them what you intended to do?

I think it came as a shock to most but as soon as they thought about it everyone was onboard. I have a great support network which helps. Everyone just wants the same as us; to make a difference in a child’s life.

What kind of preparation did you need to make before you welcomed your first foster child?

Well, we did the steps to fostering which took months, we went through the panel and did all the mandatory training. We also put together a welcome pack that is given to a child before they arrive, this gives full details about us, who we are, where we live, their room etc. With FCA they have an excellent matching team, and the children are matched to suitable foster carers, taking into account location and others living in the house. It’s important to build a good relationship with the matching department. You will have many calls regarding children before the right one for everyone comes to stay.

Like everything else in life, there are positives and negatives so can you give me at least one of each for anyone out there considering doing the same as you have?

The positive for me is seeing a child laugh and sing on the way to school. It takes time for the little one to trust so when you eventually get that long-awaited hug it’s a feeling, I wish I could bottle.

The negatives, for me, are trying to understand the trauma, and the resulting behaviour the child may display cease of that trauma and when a child lets you into their previous life, it can sometimes be very upsetting.

My advice for anyone thinking of fostering is…. do it.

It’s the most rewarding job ever! When we sit and look at how far the little one placed with us has come on in the past year it’s amazing.

Things that we take for granted are sometimes firsts for these little children, like a visit to the beach. The way their wee faces light up over simple things to us but huge things to them. These children change your life and make you appreciate the little things, it brings you right back to the beginning. Be prepared for the tears, you cry for everyone, good tears and bad.

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