Chris’s experiences of foster care

Chris Crooks from Belfast is 22. He came into foster care at the age of 14.

When I was 14 I came to live with my foster carers. My mum was suffering with mental health problems and my dad had never really been in my life so it wasn’t an option for me to live with him.

My foster carers have always been a real support to me. I stayed oChris Crooks and social worker, Anne Kennedy at a Belfast Giants gamen in education and now I’m at college three days a week. I work in IT support the other two days on a placement which I’m hoping will end in a permanent job.

Although I was old enough to understand the reasons for my living in care I was still a bit negative about this in the beginning. I didn’t want to see my birth mum for a long time, but my carers encouraged me to go along to contact sessions. My mum passed away a couple of weeks after my 18th birthday. I’m so glad now that I had a relationship with her because of my carers.

I’ve had low points in my life but generally it’s been fantastic over the past eight years. I’ve had a lot of good times in my foster home and some great memories. I’ve been able to experience family life and enjoyed holidays and other opportunities I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.

One of the best things has been living with other children and young people. It’s great to have other kids around. We come together as an alternative family. We are able to share experiences and understand what each other is going through. I feel as if I have sisters and brothers.

My foster carers have put so much effort into fostering. I believe I am a different person as a result of them. In terms of my education and the relationship with my birth family they have given me so much support. It certainly has changed my life.