Janette McDonald, 59, from Moorside in Sunderland has been a foster carer for 10 years
Janette has three children of her own. She has a son aged 35 and two daughters aged 29 and 27.
Janette decided to find out about fostering after watching a television programme about young people living in care that had been moved around different placements quite a lot.
She says: “My husband and I agreed that it must be hard for a young person to be moved around different carers and I wanted to do something to make a difference.”
Janette started to look into fostering and was recommended to contact Sunderland local authority.
Once enquiring, Janette was required to undergo home visits, assessments and training in order to start as a foster carer. “I’ve had no problems at all with home visits or assessments; I have always got along with the professionals at TfC. I did a lot of training in fostering for five years but have done less since my husband had a stroke but I still regularly attend support groups.”
Over the years Janette and her husband have done some respite care but have predominately done permanent foster care. Over that time, she has looked after three children.
16-year-old Dillon, was placed with the McDonald’s when he was 10.
Janette says: “At first Dillon didn’t smile and was extremely shy. It’s taken a few years to build up his confidence and self-esteem but what a different young man he is now. Being in a family where he’s happy and has stability has really helped.”
Five years ago Janette’s husband, Keith, suffered a stroke that left him in hospital for four months and wheelchair bound. Because Janette was caring for Keith too, she was concerned that they might not be able to continue looking after Dillon. However, after speaking with Together for Children (TfC), the organisation that delivers Sunderland’s children’s services, she was relieved to learn they could continue to provide a home for Dillon.
Janette said: “He’s just a normal teenager, who has achieved his GCSEs and is going to college.”
Janette encourages others’ to consider fostering: “All of the TfC staff I’ve been in connection with have been really supportive and helpful. When my husband had the stroke I was offered respite support and there’s a fantastic community of foster carers with shared experiences that TfC promote through a varied social programme.”