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“My foster family meant everything to me, and they still do”

Gwynedd woman seeks to inspire potential foster carers with her personal story

A young woman has spoken about the life-changing impact a foster family had on her teenage years and beyond into adulthood and urges others to consider putting themselves forward as potential foster carers.

Jenna – who is now studying towards a degree and recently became a mother herself – has spoken as part of Maethu Cymru Gwynedd’s drive to tackle some of the misconceptions around fostering, especially for teenagers.

There is an urgent need in Wales for more foster carers to look after children of all ages but the demand for families to offer a secure and loving home for teenagers is more acute.

Jenna went to live with her foster family in Gwynedd at the age of 15 after spending most of her childhood in care. Now 23, she continues to be close to her foster family and wants to share the positive impact her foster family has had on her life in the hope it can inspire others to consider becoming a foster carer.

“My foster family meant everything to me, and they still do,” says Jenna, who has formed a life-long relationship with the family. “It was that feeling of belonging and being genuinely wanted, which I had never really experienced before. My foster carers chose to welcome me into their home and to be part of their family.

“For the first time ever, I felt part of a family dynamic, which was something I had wanted my entire life. Having parents who treat me as their daughter. Having sibling relationships for the first time – even though it didn’t take us long to before we started arguing like siblings!

“But it felt normal and natural. I felt truly happy. Happier than I had ever felt before.

“As a child growing up in care, I had always thought that when I’d turn 18, that was it. I’d be on my own. That’s the perception I had of how it worked.

“But my foster carers reassured me that they’d always be there for me. I wasn’t just a means to an end and that was such a nice, warm feeling.”

Jenna lived with her grandparents from the age of seven. Finding a local foster family was important to her so that she could stay close to them and remain in her school to complete her GCSEs.

“My relationship with my Taid and Nain has actually improved since I went to live with my foster family,” Jenna added. “We have that space and break from each other, but we are close enough to visit each other and meet up regularly. We have a lovely Taid and Nain relationship now, which is how it should be.

“When I look back at myself to when I first came to live with my foster carers, I have changed so much. I lacked confidence and felt unsure of myself. Being 15 wasn’t a fun age to be, for me or for my foster carers, and it hasn’t always been easy. But they believed in me and made me believe that I could achieve in life.

“I never thought that someone like me could go to University, but having that secure family dynamic and support has given me the confidence to do just that.

“I would say to anyone who is considering fostering, but unsure, to at least give it a go. Anything you could offer will make a difference to a young person’s life, however small that might be. I don’t even want to think about the person I’d be now if I hadn’t gone into foster care. I am forever grateful for my foster family.” 

In Gwynedd, there are more than 280 children in care of the local authority, with 13 children currently waiting for a foster home, eight of whom are aged 11 or older.  

Maethu Cymru Gwynedd is keen to find more families who could help these vulnerable young people – including children with more complex needs, such as Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) – by offering them a home environment where they can develop and have the best chance of a successful future.

By fostering through Cyngor Gwynedd, local children and young people are more likely to remain within their community, close to friends and family members they stay in touch with. This can give them some stability and help them retain their sense of identity.

Cyngor Gwynedd’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Councillor Elin Walker Jones added:

“One of the main challenges in the recruitment of foster carers is finding those who have the skills to specialise in fostering young people with more complex needs. Those with a background in this area are key to making sure that our most vulnerable children have a home where they can develop and thrive.

“A wider pool of foster carers with different skills and qualities would make it more likely that the right homes can be found for children first time, giving them the best chance of a successful future without having to move away from their local community.”

“Our foster carers receive amazing support from a dedicated fostering team, along with advice and support from specialist teams to help meet the needs of our children and young people in Gwynedd.”

For more information about fostering with your local authority in Gwynedd, or to make an enquiry, visit:

Contact us – foster wales gwynedd (

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