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Day in the life of a Portsmouth foster carer: Nina and Keith’s story

Nina and Keith have been fostering for five years with Foster Portsmouth. They’ve cared for a large number of children, 12 in total, during that time. Beginning with a baby, they progressed to siblings, and they now care for two groups of two siblings.

They said “We’re very busy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.”

man and woman leaning into each other smiling happily at the camera

The road to fostering

Nina and Keith were inspired to foster after spending time with a close friend who is a foster carer. Seeing the difference you could make in the life of a young person encouraged their desire to foster.

“We saw that Foster Portsmouth was holding an open evening at the Civic Offices and decided to go. They had assessing social workers and some wonderful foster carers there, one of whom was a close friend.

“We spoke with them all; hearing the foster carers’ stories really pushed us to make our decision, and we applied to foster right away.”

Meeting the assessor

Nina and Keith had an Initial Home Visit (IHV) after applying. This is an important visit to your home with all of the adults who live there, older children who wish to participate, and an assessing social worker.

We’ll look around your house and garden (if you have one) to see if it’s suitable, then we’ll spend time talking about your background, family life, and home circumstances, and, most importantly, why you want to be a foster carer.

If both you and the assessor are happy to proceed, a formal application will be made, and you’ll go through an assessment process of up to six months leading up to that all important panel date.

“The most difficult part of the assessment process for us was trying to remember where we’d been and what we’d been up to our entire lives, beginning at the age of 16.

“We really enjoyed the assessment process, from going over different scenarios and how we’d handle them to the nitty gritty. It really fuelled our desire to become foster parents. And it made us stronger as a family.”

More information on the assessment process can be found in our blog post: What to expect during the foster carer assessment process.

The importance of education  

When Calli first moved in with them, she had a low attendance record at school and was out of her school routine. Keith was able to discover the underlying reasons for her dislike of school, so he could help her get back into education.  

“At the time, I worked with my brother-in-law and he was very understanding of Nina and I fostering. I was able to drive Calli to school, pick her up, and attend any and all school meetings. After six months, she was confident enough to take the bus to school on her own.

“She’s in her first year of university now and doing fantastically well. We are so proud of her and the journey she has taken.”

female wearing t shirt and denim jacket carrying a bunch of books wearing a rucksack

A typical day for Nina and Keith

“Mornings go in a flurry and are timed to military precision. A morning routine is important because it helps children stay calm in the morning, which helps shape their day at school. We have three schools, two close by and one a little further away. We provide a variety of breakfast options for the children to choose from; it’s critical that they feel in control of their lives.

“The rest of the school day can go in one of two directions. We could either have five hours to ourselves at home, meet a friend for lunch, or be a little boring and do the food shopping, errands, and housework. Alternatively, we could have an afternoon of training, meetings with the various professionals involved in the lives of the children, or a visit from our social worker to see how things are going.

“We usually pick up the kids from school, but sometimes one of their extended family members will pick them up and take them to tea. When we get home, we unwind by going to the local park, relaxing in our TV room, or doing an activity of the children’s choosing.

“Because one of the children we care for is preparing for her SATs, she has a tutor come over once a week to help her progress and revise.

“Evenings are usually fairly busy because the children in our care take part in various activities such as Girl Guides. Family time with the children’s birth parents also occurs once a fortnight at the weekends either in dedicated centres or in the community.”

“Last week, it was the youngest child we care for parents evening, so Keith went along while I stayed at home with the other children.

“Most evenings, however, are like any other family’s; dinner, bath, and relaxation until bedtime. Then it’s time to wake up and do it all over again.”

*Name changed to protect identities.  

Could you foster?

More people like Nina and Keith, who offer their hearts and homes to vulnerable young people, are needed in Portsmouth.   

We welcome foster carers from all backgrounds, regardless of nationality, relationship status, or religious beliefs. 

There’s no upper age limit, and you don’t need to own a home. Prospective carers must be at least 21 years old, have a spare room, some experience with young people, and a lot of patience, resilience, and a positive outlook. 

We offer our foster carers fantastic allowances for the children in their care, thorough training and continuing 24/7 support, access to the award-winning Mockingbird model of care, social activities, and free membership to The Fostering Network. 

If you have further questions to ask, give us a call on023 9283 4071 or email us at and a member of our team will answer any and all questions you may have. 

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