Jayne and Ernie
Jane and Ernie from Hayes had been thinking about fostering for a while and felt the time was right to start fostering when their older two children had grown up. They have been fostering since 2001.
Ernie said: "When we first started fostering, we looked after children of all ages, but now we mostly look after babies and young children. We did initially really enjoy looking after teenagers, but when we had our younger children, we decided that babies would fit in better with our family lifestyle."
The couple foster newborn babies for a period of time until a final decision is made about the child's future. Jayne said: "People think it's easy looking after babies, but it can be really challenging. We fostered a baby from birth when the mother was misusing drugs during pregnancy. I would visit the baby girl in hospital every single day whilst she was gradually being withdrawn from the drugs, and I had to give her medication for the first few months in our care.
"We had another baby whose mother was a victim of domestic abuse and had alcohol dependence. The baby was born with foetal alcohol syndrome - a dangerous condition that occurs when a baby is exposed to excessive alcohol in the womb -and that was challenging. You have to be strong to deal with that kind of situation."
Ernie said: "As a carer, you have to be mindful and look out for signs of any problems or issues. We were caring for a 6-month-old baby and he didn't cry at all, and I knew something wasn't right. We put in a lot of effort and started taking him to sensory rooms and made sure we played with him all the time. You have to pick behaviours up really quickly, and it takes time and a lot of hard work. But the effort you put in, you will get back and it's so worth it."
Jayne said: "The biggest challenge is always when the children move on and we all have a good cry when they leave, but they're tears of happiness. It's always hard, but we know that they are going on to their forever home and will be so loved, it makes us all happy. Our job is to look after them whilst they are in our care and make sure we pass on as much information as possible to their new family.
"Each baby we look after - we give our time and our love to, and that's all they need. We give them the best start in life that we can, and it's so amazing to watch them progress in a short time. People are amazed by how happy the baby is after just a few weeks with us, sleeping well and playing. There's a huge gap when a child leaves the house, but we can't imagine not fostering now!"
Jayne said: "We have a busy household, but we love it! Each time we have a new newborn baby, we prepare ourselves for the sleepless nights and the hard work, but we like the challenge and I'm always confident that I can get the baby into a routine. It's so rewarding when you make a difference and you see the children just blossom.
"Fostering is hard work, but if you love kids and can offer a child a home in a loving environment - just try it. Even after so many years, I'm always telling people to go along to an open evening and find out more."
Could you be like Jayne and Ernie?