VOC- Jenny's Story

Trigger warning.  Some of the things discussed my trigger others.  If you have been affected negatively by fostering you may want to go on the the home page and select another article.

The names of people have been changed in this piece and reflect the opinions of the writer.

Jenny's Story

My day started out like any other. The hustle and bustle of getting the older children to school whilst making sure the little one was happy. The running to and fro, trying to find the rebel sock that once sat on the bedside cabinet who was now a wanted fugitive.

Then the phone call came. 

It was the social services.  

“We need to come and talk.  Can we come now?” said the calm, yet serious, voice on the other end of the phone.  I, of course, agreed. 

As I hung up the phone to this ominous conversation I thought to myself, what has Olivia done now?  It wasn’t abnormal to get these calls about her.  She was eager to return home to her family and would sometimes lose her cool, due to her frustrations.  I ushered my husband home at the news, asking him to free up time for this impromptu meeting.


The ladies arrived, standing side by side as I invited them in to my safe space, my home. 

They were dressed identical. 

They acted identical, settling themselves down onto our sofa side by side.

I had expected one, but two social workers meant that this was bad news. 


“Is everyone ok?” I asked, wondering if an accident had happened.  They responded with the most devastating sentence that I have ever heard in all my life.  “We have received a complaint.  It’s about you Jenny.”

The fog descended.  

I couldn’t think.  

My heart beat fiercely within my chest.  The voices speaking were muffled like I was hearing them from under water.  I felt as though I was drowning.

My littlest, who happened to be one of my foster children, gazed up at me and pulled at my jumper.  Zara was her name.  

She pulled me back from being consumed and returned me to the nightmare that was unfolding.  

I held her in my arms and wondered if it was even appropriate for me to hold her any more.

Did this mean no more cuddles.

No more playtime.

No more us.


I knew what happened if allegations ever entered a foster home.

I had heard the horror stories of the falsely accused and worse… the guilty.


Zara wasn’t mine, but she was entrusted to me by her mother.

An honour and vocation I took very seriously for each and every child that entered our home.

I couldn’t protect her and Olivia from being moved.

And faced the fact that I may even lose my own two children Gemma and Jonathan until I could prove my innocence.


Zara tilted her head to its side like she was asking me what was wrong.

I smiled, handing her some blocks and popping her beside me to play.


“We don’t want to remove the children so we have devised a safe care plan that you will have to live by.” one of the women said.  “You can no longer be alone with any of the children other than your own.  Can your father move in Jenny to keep an eye on you?"

I found this quite shocking at the time.  

They wanted my dad to move in with our family.

To a home that was bursting at the seams.

To watch me without himself being police checked, undergoing supervision or going through the rigorous checks and training I did.  

This they deemed as a safer option.  

The fact was, that they would rather have an unsanctioned stranger looking over the children’s welfare than someone they had known for over a decade.

My husband and I looked at each other. 

We were frightened for our foster children.

Frightened for our children. 

Frightened for the future. 

I explained that my father wasn’t an option.  We had just lost my Mum to cancer and even if we had the room, it wasn’t fair to put this on him during this time of grief.

Silence filled the room.  Then I heard my husband speak.  “I will do it.  I will make it work with my employer and I will step in.”

It was true that his employer was thoughtful and accommodating.  And so that day became the day that we began to live under the safe care plan.

I remember being unable to walk about my house without shouting about where I was when doing house work. 

"I'm in the hall Adam!

I'm just going to the toilet."

I remember cooking on my own in the kitchen and my foster child would walk in and I would have to immediately leave.  

I remember Olivia coming to me to talk about womanly issues and she would be forced to speak with my husband present.  

I remember sitting in my bed waiting for my husband to wake so I could go downstairs.  

I remember my husband having a shower early in the morning when the kids were asleep.  Olivia woke up early and came downstairs which meant I would have to chose to either put my kids coats on and take them outside, or leave my kids with Olivia which wasn’t something that was safe or appropriate.

For ten months I awaited a meeting with the police.  

And for those ten months I never knew what was said about me.  

I wasn’t allowed to know the allegation against me although I was allowed to know who it was from.  

Once I heard their names I could reason as to why this was happening.  It was the twins.

Their placement was one that started off well but as months went on and they weren't returned to their family, it took a dark turn.

I knew this wasn't them but psychologically and emotionally it devastated me.  

I tortured myself repeatedly going over every interaction with the the two children in question.  

I remember hearing during my training that abuse can happen in a moment that goes wrong.  

Holding a hand too tightly.  

Brushing hair.  

I tore every second with them apart.  

I wanted to find out if I had done anything wrong.  I couldn't find a thing which you would think would give me peace, but all it did was torture me more.

I knew what their family was like. 

I knew the kids were being told what to say.  

I fought the anger every day to give them grace for their situation.

And then the day came.  

I walked down the hallway of the police station with my representation by my side.  I was about to hear everything and be shocked to my core. 

I remember the police officers making me aware of the severity of the situation and my brain just couldn't understand the words they were saying to me.  I felt so stupid and I suddenly realised the importance of having my solicitor involved.

They laid out the allegations.  

I was accused of everything other than sexual abuse.  

I was glad for the children that those involved in this disgusting scam had enough foresight to leave out sexual abuse and to not put the kids through a full body exam with the police.  

My heart went out to them.  

I thought of their confusion.  

I thought of how uncomfortable they must feel being wrapped up in something so sinister.

They weren't bad kids.

They were just kids in a bad situation.

The officers asked me tons of questions.  

I recall being clear and answering them with one or two word answers. 

Then the questions became more in depth and I shared with them, my evidence.  

I had with me pages upon pages of abuse I suffered at the hands of the kids and their parents.  

The numerous doctor visits about bruising they would come home with after contact.  

The names they would call me.

The fact that a social worker was in my home daily other than at the weekend.  

The reports on their behaviour, fuelled by their family who told them to hit, kick, bite and abuse others in our home.

Then they began to read the statements the girls made to them.  

I took a deep breath.  

This was the moment that would be the hardest.

The moment that would wipe away all the good I had done.  

All the times they would hit me and I would love them anyway.  

The times I would sit up all night because they were sick or had a bad dream.  

The times I advocated for them at school when they were facing bullies.

The times when they forgot that they were fostered and enjoyed playtime.

The officer leading the interview got through a page of the document and I asked, “I am sorry. Where are the allegations you have mentioned?”  She paused, looked at the papers and said, “Actually, they made no mention of any of the crimes laid out to the social worker by the family and the children.”

The officers looked at each other as the interviewer closed the file and said, “In fact I don’t need to read any of this to you as there is nothing in here illegal and the younger child said they didn’t want to have anything more to do with this.” 

As I stared across the table I felt that I could see it. 

Or at least I believe what I saw.


However used to this they were. 

However well trained. 

However impartial they needed to remain.

I believed that the police officers knew what I knew. 

I was wrongfully accused.


They asked me if I had anything else to add as I surrendered a copy of my paperwork.  I had done so well up to this point to not cry.  

I wanted to be clear, concise and stable, but at that question I broke down.  

Through the tears I sobbed, “I didn’t do these things. I have nothing more to say.”

The officer terminated the interview and turned off the tape.  We sat there for a moment.  

It seemed like time slowed down.  

The officer explained the process going forward.  How this would go to the Prosecution Service and be assessed.  

It could be dismissed.  

It could also go to trial and I could be arrested for child abuse.

But it would be up to the prosecution panel to decide based on the evidence.

As I left the room and followed the officer down to the door she held the handle and said three words that would carry me through the rest of the process.  “I am sorry.”

A month later a letter dropped through my door telling me that it had been dismissed.  

I wish I could tell you that that was the end of it but it wasn’t.  

I had to live under the safe care plan for a time after that and I came under a lot of scrutiny.  

My character was torn apart to the shock of the families whose children we were helping to support.  The children social services representation also seemed confused in how they said that I was in my position as a foster carer.  

People who had been in my home under happy circumstances but also in the low moments wondered what was going on in the senior social workers character assessment of me.

The safe care plan was lifted at our link workers request with the backing of others whose children we had sworn to protect. 

After that link worker moved on I incurred an onslaught of negativity and malpractice from an organisation that is designed to care and protect.  

Due to Covid we could not attend a meeting that we were supposed to have minutes for.  The outcome of the meeting was that my husband was to remain as the primary carer which was not his desire.  

He didn’t want to be the lead and his employer had been patient enough during this season.  

My new link worker said that they didn’t want me but she didn’t provide the paperwork to support her story either.  I was incredibly suspicious.  

Months went by were we wanted to see this for ourselves.  She never sent it.  

I went through the Freedom of Information Act process.  The ones in charge of releasing documentation waited a year as the social services office wouldn’t release the paperwork. 

When they did, they said they had lost parts of it.  

Guess what was missing?  

The minutes from that meeting.

We felt unsafe, and so finished with the children we had who all returned home and ended our fostering journey that year.

For several years after retiring from fostering I have continued to try and get answers and the missing paperwork. 

I have been met with barriers and stories of lost paperwork.  Which is both not good enough and not true in my opinion.

Fostering was tough.  

We gave up our lives, time and safety for children who needed someone.  

We did great work.  

We made a difference.  

It was a shame that the organisation we worked through was flawed.

It has been an event in my life that has left a mark.

I have been in therapy and refused to work with young people for years fearing our cultures favourite saying, “There is no smoke without fire.”  

Unfortunately, there is when it is arson and someone is trying to burn your life down.

After time and space I have come back from the brink.  

The old me is dead.  

The new me sees children differently.  

I holdback more.  

I trust less.  

But I believe in the power of fostering and care for the wellbeing of foster carers.


It isn’t an easy job.

It isn’t an easy way of life.

Protect yourself like you do the children in your care.

Write everything down.

Read everything you sign.

Listen to your instinct.

And love those children.

If you have been affected by this story please seek advice from Fostering Network or your nearest fostering community or service or someone you can trust.

Abuse of children within the social system does happen and Jenny and I both recommend that if you see something suspect that you should report it.

If you would like to share your story or contact me please feel free to private message me on our Facebook page or on Instagram and while you are there you can give me a like or a follow for daily encouragements. You can also email me using theencouragerslife@gmail.com address. 

Be sure to check out our next article here on ‘The Encouragers Life.’

Copyright 2023

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