Cecilia McCracken

Northern Trust foster carer

Cecilia is a short term carer for the Northern Trust. She has been a carer for the Trust for 12 years and cares for babies and young toddlers. After Cecilia’s husband passed away she decided to apply to foster, so began late in her life. However, she feels that being retired and at home during the day gives her the time, energy and commitment needed to care for young children.

Cecilia has an adult daughter and she was also interested in fostering. They decided to make an application at the same time and were able to go through the training together. Cecilia felt that this was very beneficial as they were able to support each other through the process. Cecilia’s daughter offered respite care for a period of time until she had children of her own. Although she no longer fosters she has insight into the needs of children requiring placements and is a great support to Cecilia.

At present Cecilia has one young toddler placed with her. She would have taken up to three children at a time but since her daughter has had children she helps care for them also. When asked how she copes with caring for young children, becoming attached and then they move on Cecilia is very open and honest saying, “It isn’t easy and does not get any easier no matter how long you’ve been fostering.” She says it is an emotional time and you need a lot of support from family and friends. However, when the children move on she knows that if they are being adopted or going back to birth family it is the best long term plan for them. A lot of the times she is able to keep in contact with the families and knows how the child is getting on. She feels it is great to see them doing so well and knowing you played an important part in that child’s care.

Over the years Cecilia has offered care to older children but feels that this was not where she felt in her comfort zone and says she definitely copes better with caring for babies. Cecilia says it is important that you are honest with yourself and know where your strengths lie and what age range and ability of a child you can foster.

Cecilia states, “I love being a foster carer. It is very fulfilling and rewarding to help children and families who are going through a difficult period in their lives. Some of the children have been such a joy to care for and have really become one of the family.”

Cecilia also states that although fostering is a very worthwhile thing to do it is not always a bed of roses. She says some of the children have been hard work and have had challenging behaviours. She believes having support from family and friends is vital. She has good neighbours and her daughter lives close by and sometimes just talking to friends and other people who foster can be very therapeutic.

Cecilia recommends fostering and finds it rewarding and satisfying. She states, “You just need to be able to offer a secure home environment and enjoy caring for children. It’s also important to have lots of patience and a good sense of humour.”

Cecilia ends by saying: “You are making a difference to a child’s life. What can be more rewarding than that?!”