I've achieved so much
The Cartwrights have been fostering with Birmingham City Council for 32 years now, since former stay-at-home mum Julia was 32. Both from large families themselves, Julia and Dave thought it might be an idea to have more children when their youngest child was five years old.
"I have reaped so many personal rewards from fostering", explains Julia. "Making a difference to each child's life is such a joy. The nature of my job and the history that some children have has meant that I have faced challenges too. But I have always been impressed with the level of professional support that I receive from my link worker in the Council, the Council social work teams, the children social workers, Birmingham Foster Care Association and my local cell group. This is in addition to all of the training that I receive. I'm not on my own or just left to my own devices. It is a team effort and I share my responsibility for the children I care for with the Council. That what I like about it and that why I've always worked with them. The council pays me a good fee for the work that I do, which is boosted by other financial support offered - including payments for birthday presents and Christmas presents (or presents for other festivities that may be relevant) which is really lovely for the children. Then there is a maintenance fee for the children that I care for so they can have all of the material things that they need.
"On top of all of this, I have had the opportunity to grow and develop my skills so much. I did an NVQ with the department in 1997, then I went on to be an NVQ Assessor, then an Internal Verifier and I now have a teaching diploma for Adult Learning. Through being a foster carer, I have had so many wonderful experiences and opportunities. And what's really touching is that my contribution has been recognised in a special way. A few years ago, Prince Charles presented me with an MBE for working with children. So it's been nice to see that, in addition to the personal rewards I get for my job, and the wages I'm paid for my work, the special level of recognition that I've been shown is really wonderful.
"Being a foster carer has been such a positive experience for me and my family that one of my daughters has become a foster carer too and another of my daughters has adopted."