David and Norma Tennis

South Eastern Trust foster carers

“Go for it!  There’ll be ups and downs but you’ll find it very rewarding and will get more out of it than you put in”. David and Norma Tennis

Local foster carers, David and Norma Tennis have been opening the door of their home to foster children for twenty five years.  Although they were initially approved to foster babies in the short term this has changed over the years and they have cared for children of all ages, children with disabilities, children in emergency circumstances, respite arrangements and longer term situations.  Over the years, the couple estimate they have had almost fifty children living in their home.

Norma knew from a very young age that her strengths lay in caring for children and having been raised in an environment where her grandmother and mother both fostered, she was keen to welcome other children into her home.  Fostering was never something that David had previously considered but feels he has grown and developed in his role as a foster carer and that fostering children has greatly enhanced their lives over the years.

Although at times, they’ve had some unsettled and difficult scenarios to manage, the couple have positive memories of every child they have met and speak proudly of their achievements and progress.  They’ve enjoyed supporting children in all aspects of their development from improving their diets to their education, sporting pursuits and even graduating from university.  David and Norma have three children of their own but happily consider their family to be much larger as many of their foster children have remained permanent additions to the household.  Without a doubt they feel their own children have greatly benefited from growing up with children from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

When asked what qualities they felt a foster carer needed, the couple felt that flexibility and the ability to be able to let go emotionally when the children have to move on were key to successfully caring for children.  They also felt that it is vital to be able to know and admit when a placement isn’t working and when you need help or support.  For the Tennis’s, mutual support from other foster carers has been invaluable and this support has resulted in many new friendships for the couple.  They also felt that their Supervising Social Worker has been a great source of support.  For anyone considering fostering, David and Norma say “Go for it!  There’ll be ups and downs but you’ll find it very rewarding and will get more out of it than you put in”.

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust provides foster carers with social work support and training.  A Regional Emergency Social Work Service is available outside of office hours.  Monthly allowances are paid to foster carers to cover the cost of caring for a child/children.

If you would like to hear more about Fostering please contact Gillian Chesney, Fostering Recruitment and Assessment Team, South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust on (028) 91270672 or email on Gillian.chesney@setrust.hscni.net.  You can also enquire online.