After 30 years working as an engineer in the gas industry, Kim David Jones from South Wales made a life-changing choice and became a foster carer.
Kim (above with his life, Caron) explains how it all came about and what it did for his family.
When I decided I needed a change of direction, fostering wasn’t an immediate decision. But when our own kids flew the nest and it was just my wife Caron and me – everything was a bit too quiet in the house, it was like all that youthful energy had disappeared, all the chatter and the laughter.
We had been looking forward to time for ourselves, some independence after all those years bringing up the kids – but we came to realise that wasn’t actually what we wanted. So we decided to open up our house and applied online to become foster carers – we have never looked back. We completed the assessment and lots of excellent training from the National Fostering Group, and six months later we welcomed Daniel to our family – it was an amazing turning point in all our lives.
When Daniel came to live with us, I couldn’t have foreseen the joy he would bring to our home. Daniel is autistic, when he arrived he was very withdrawn and struggled to even make eye contact. He barely spoke and was unable to look after himself. His first 10 years of life had been very traumatic – separated from his parents and five siblings and placed in a care setting that couldn’t give him the support he needed, then moved from pillar to post. He never had any control over his life, never knew what was going to happen to him next, or where he would be living – so of course he was extremely anxious and angry.
But then I discovered he loved football as much as I did – I’m a life-long Liverpool supporter and he’s a Man U fan. Even though the clubs are arch-rivals on the field, footie gave us the common ground we needed to start building a relationship, which is exactly what we did and that bond just grew stronger and stronger. This was what Daniel needed, a solid foundation and love.
We enrolled Daniel at a school with a Special Teaching Facility (STF), which met his needs perfectly, he left school with all of his expected grades and went to college. At the moment he’s completing his apprenticeship as a brick-layer and learning to drive. Although he’s 18 and officially out of foster care, he is still living with us as part of the ‘When I’m Ready’ scheme and can stay with us until he’s 21 or 25, as he’s still completing his education and training.
But our story doesn’t end there. When Daniel was 14, he asked us whether his younger brother Riley could come and live with us. We agreed and the boys were re-united – they were so happy to be together – and Caron and I now had twice the joy! Riley was 12 and he too was autistic, suffered from extremely low self-esteem and struggled to look after himself. And once more – sport proved to be the key.
Riley is a very athletic boy, he’s driven, has a competitive edge, loves the outdoors and loves cricket. We enrolled him in Daniel’s school and he began to flourish. He played for the Welsh Disability Cricket Team and our town’s Under-17s – and the team went on to win the league and cup double. He’s so talented, he now also plays for the football team. Who would have believed that that withdrawn, apprehensive 12-year-old would become such a confident and successful sportsman, he’s amazing, He just needed someone to believe in him.
Daniel and Riley have made such a difference to our lives. Our house is full of love and energy once more. It’s so great to watch the boys growing up and sharing their journey – they are an amazing pair. Fostering makes a really positive contribution to society, and more importantly, a real difference to a child who hasn’t had the best start. The impact that you can have as a foster carer – helping young people discover a new path in their life and changing their future – it’s incredible – you can literally turn a child’s life around.
For more information about fostering please visit www.fostercarers.com.