Annette O’Keefe was approved as a foster carer in January 2020, and then partner Pete Toseland followed suit in November 2021.
Annette decided to become a foster carer in her own right after being a significant adult for one of her friends who was a mainstream foster carer for Foster Wales Swansea.
Annette supported her friend by helping to look after some of the young people in her care, whether it was for a couple of hours or an overnight stay.
Annette and Peter discuss what it’s like being foster carers.
what made you decide to foster?
Annette: “I wanted to help support children in need, plus I already had experience of looking after the children who were in my friend’s care.”
Annette and Peter provide shorts breaks to help families, as well as respite for foster carers to give them necessary break.
Annette: “I was aware that there was a real need for short break and respite carers, to help support families and other foster carers.”
how important is it that there are carers who can provide these type of placements?
Peter: “It’s really important that there are foster carers who can offer these placements as it helps children to stay at home and it avoids mainstream fostering placements from breaking down.”
All foster carers say how important support is, whether it is from their social worker or from family and friends – Annette and Peter are no different.
how important is support?
Annette: “Times were different during Covid and continue to be so, we all had to adapt and do things differently. Having support from Foster Wales Swansea makes all the difference.”
what are the rewards of fostering?
Annette: “It’s a lovely feeling when the young people want to continue to stay with us after they’ve been with us on respite or short breaks. We also have young people who keep in touch with us after staying with us. This makes us feel that we’re doing something right. This is also echoed when we get positive feedback from social workers.”
Peter: “There are so many rewards, especially providing the type of placements we do. It’s really nice being able to support the children and their families, providing the children with a safe and friendly environment when they are with us.”
Annette: “Seeing the young people smile and be happy with us is lovely. It’s also really nice being able to see the young people being transitioned to a more permanent home successfully.”
When people are considering fostering, it’s important that fostering services don’t shy away from the challenges that being a foster carer can bring because like anything in life, it’s not plain-sailing.
For more information on the support and rewards, click here.
are there any challenges to fostering and if so, what?
Annette: “Yes, there can be a lot of challenges, especially if the children find it difficult to settle initially. They need to find trust with their carers before they can relax. It’s about showing the children that you care and will keep them from harm. Our job is to help them feel secure.”
There is still confusion between local authority/council fostering and fostering for an Independent Fostering Agency. In simple terms, local authority fostering services are not-for-profit and when children come into care they are the responsibility in which they reside. Therefore, if any child requires a foster placement, local authority foster carers are approached first and foremost. Only when there aren’t any in-house foster carers available, are independent fostering agencies approached by the local authority to help find a home for a child or young person.
Annette and Peter encourage people to foster for their local authority.
why foster for your local authority?
Annette: “It’s simple, we foster for Foster Wales Swansea because we know there is a really good support network in place and that is crucial.”
do you have any advice to people who are considering fostering?
Annette: “Whilst there are challenges, fostering has many rewards and brings a great deal of satisfaction knowing that you have helped children in need. We really enjoy being foster carers.”
get in touch
Want to find out more information on the process of becoming a foster carer? Click here for more information.