CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hertfordshire Life today CLICK HERE

5 minutes with Jo Ann Cummins

PUBLISHED: 12:55 03 May 2016 | UPDATED: 13:08 03 May 2016

Herts County Council needs to recruit 70 new foster carers this year to meet the needs of children and young people coming into care

Herts County Council needs to recruit 70 new foster carers this year to meet the needs of children and young people coming into care

Archant

The Offley mum and first-time foster carer reveals the rewards and challenges of taking in a child in need of a loving home

Why did you become a foster carer?

It’s something I’ve been interested in since my own four children were young, but having looked into it we decided to wait until they were old enough to understand what the process involves – there are lots of rules and regulations to consider. My youngest had just gone to university and we were assigned our first foster child – a newborn baby girl – a few months before she left last year. I’ve never looked back.

What was the application process like?

It takes around 14 weeks – ours was a bit longer – and there are various stages. Everyone needs to be police checked. If you have pets, they’ll need to be assessed (homes with big dogs might be able to foster only older children, for instance), and you have home visits and health and safety checks too. It ends with a panel – basically an interview carried out by a selection of professionals including teachers, other foster carers and social services workers – who decide if you’re ready to be a foster carer.

What were your emotions when you were assigned a child?

Well, I certainly wasn’t expecting a baby! They are quite rare in the fostering system. It was a bit of a shock but now she’s here she’s taken over our lives and is just a part of the family. We’ve done everything, including the night feeds! And we love taking her out to do things like swimming. It’s what I loved about bringing up my own children – spending time with them, doing activities and taking them to gymnastics classes etc. And now I get to do it all again. Our other children just adore her and love visiting us but it’s taught them they’re not ready for babies of their own yet!

What surprised you most about fostering?

There’s a lot that goes with it. It’s not just looking after a child. There’s hospital appointments, meetings and every day I take her to a contact centre so she can spend time with her parents. With younger children, there are lots of reviews to make sure the child doesn’t get lost in the care system. But there’s nothing that has put me off. I’ve found it really enjoyable.

What advice would you give prospective foster carers?

Above all not to take things personally. The checks and assessments can seem quite intrusive but it’s not about you – you’re going to be caring for someone’s children, so things have to be right. There’s good support too. Every week I go to Foster Bugs group where I can chat to other carers and ask questions and I’ve also been given training like first aid. Of course it’s not easy but it gets better once you get into a routine. Once a child starts to trust you and is settled, it’s incredibly rewarding. If you love spending time with children and being involved in their lives, then it’s honestly a very fulfilling job.

What does the future hold for you and your foster child?

I remind everyone she’s not with us forever. She’ll stay with us until she either goes back to her parents or proceeds to adoption. We’ve made her a memory box full of pictures – the children have already taken more than 400! – marking special moments and things like the first time she clapped her hands, so when she’s older she’ll know she was loved and cared for.

Foster Care Fortnight takes place from May 16-29

Herts County Council needs 70 new foster carers this year to meet the needs of children and young people coming into care. For more information on becoming a foster carer, visit hertsdirect.org

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hertfordshire visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hertfordshire staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hertfordshire account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

More from People

00:00

Putting the spotlight on retailers whose business is an important part of the community.

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Escape to the Chateau star Angel Adoree is currently reaping the benefits of her incredible vision and drive to build an overseas wedding and lifestyle business from scratch with husband Dick Strawbridge. Here she tells Essex Life about series five of the hit Channel 4 show and how a strong Essex work ethic helped her dream so big | Words: Denise Marshall

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Spirit Yachts is a Suffolk success story. After 25 years of designing and building luxury vessels sailed all over the world, it has plenty to celebrate | Words: Ross Bentley

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

Actor Tom Burke talks to JUDI SPIERS about his production of Don Carlos staged by his own theatre company Ara, in association with Exeter’s Northcott Theatre

Read more
Friday, November 16, 2018

250 years ago this month a baron’s servant smashed down a bedroom door in St Albans’ White Hart Inn to find a prince in bed with his master’s wife. Cue a court case, a delighted press, and much airing of royal underwear

Read more
November 2018
Friday, November 16, 2018

As the Lord Bishop of Norwich, the Right Reverend Graham James, or Bishop Graham to his flock and many friends, prepares to retire, he bids a fond farewell to Norfolk

Read more
November 2018
Friday, November 16, 2018

Piotr Jajszczyk is a master jeweller who works for a 125-year-old Harrogate firm that has made jewellery for kings and presidents.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Millennium Care believe in independence and ‘Why not’ when it comes to what helping their residents fulfil dreams.

Read more
Thursday, November 15, 2018

Actor and broadcaster Sushil Chudasama explains why a Blackburn park is so special to him

Read more
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Graphic artist Chris Gibson is bringing Hampshire’s landmarks in to people’s homes with his nostalgic posters

Read more

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy



Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Local Business Directory

Search For a Car In Your Area

Property Search