Jordan is 13 and living with Jan, his foster carer. Their arrangement is known as private fostering.
My name is Jordan. I have been living with my foster carer, Jan, and her children (my friends) for over a year and a half – although it seems like a lot longer!
I go to a really good school in my local area, where most people are nice and friendly. I am doing very well – I came top of my year in maths, science and geography last year. I really like my school and my home. I visit my dad regularly, every other weekend and for part of the holidays – although I was late going there this year as I had flu on Christmas Day! I stayed at home and Jan looked after me well, so I still had a happy Christmas (without food as I was too ill to eat).
It seems a long while ago that my mum left, but I can still remember some of the emotions. Often I would be happy and then my mum would come into my thoughts and I would be sad again. Jan helped me through all of this however, so it wasn't as sad as it would have been.
My name is Jan, and I am a primary school teacher. I have two sons: William, 13, and David, 11. For the past 20 months, I have been private foster carer to Jordan.
I know from chatting to our social worker, Pat, that everyone comes to private fostering in different circumstances. This is how it happened for us. Jordan's mum was our neighbour and Jordan was best friends with my boys. Jordan came round to play several times a week, came with us on outings and holidays, and frequently stayed overnight. He was almost like one of the family, and I was very fond of him.
When Jordan was 10, his mum and step dad decided to move abroad. Jordan did not want to leave his dad and grown-up brothers. However, his dad's work commitments meant that he was unable to care for Jordan full-time. Jordan's mum and I discussed the possibility of Jordan coming to live with us. Eventually this was agreed upon by Jordan, his mum, his dad, me and my sons.
It took almost a year for everything to be in place for Jordan's mum to emigrate. Jordan was 11 when he came to us. He is a brave boy, but he was sad, lonely and withdrawn at this time. The year of uncertainty and now the absence of his mum had left him lacking in confidence and feeling very insecure. Regular visits to his dad helped – but this was a hard time for Jordan.
As a teacher, I knew that it was a legal requirement that I should notify social services of the arrangement. I did this on the first working day after Jordan moved in. Within a few days, we were given a time when a social worker would visit us. It was my first contact with social services outside of school, and I had no idea what to expect. I did a lot of tidying and hovering and nagging the children into making their rooms spotless.
When Jacqui, the social worker, arrived, all of us were nervous. We need not have been. She was friendly, chatty, sensible and helpful. She did not peer into the corners looking for dust or criticise the threadbare sofas. She did ask a lot of questions – but in a pleasant, unobtrusive way. It was clear from that first meeting that she was there to help and support every bit as much as to check up on us. And the checks were, after all, to ensure Jordan's safety and well-being, which were my priorities as well.
Jacqui's visits helped Jordan through the first few months away from his mother. He sensed her concern for him and her kindness, and soon opened up to her. William was teaching him to play the piano: he played his new pieces to Jacqui. He showed her his homework projects, and pictures of his family. When Pat took Jacqui's place, Jordan was ready to welcome her visits in the same way. Pat sends Jordan cards for Christmas and his birthday, and Jordan trusts and likes her very much. Knowing that he can contact her or one of her colleagues at any time gives him an added sense of security and safety.
Pat's visits have been helpful for me too – I have been able to talk over many little difficulties and worries with her, and benefit from her wider experience of children living away from their families.
Jordan is happy and at home in our family now. The three boys sometimes forget that there was ever a time when they weren't together! Jordan is doing very well at school, sings in the school choir and plays in the rugby team. He enjoys Scouts, and even as I write I can hear him practising for his Grade 2 piano exam. Every other weekend he goes to stay with his dad, and he talks on Skype to his mum several times each week. For us, private fostering has been a great success.