I am Ashley Ellis and I have been a specialist teenage foster carer for the Placement Plus Scheme for the past 3 years. I was in care myself and lived at Downsell Road when it was a Children’s Home. I was also raised by my grandmother. My early life experiences are one of the main reasons I wanted to become a foster carer.
As an adult I worked for 20 years in Downsell Road with older young people and most of the residential homes across Worcestershire. I have 4 birth children of my own and worked full time whilst bringing up my children as a single mother. At one point my daughter’s friend lived with us for 7 years as well.
I decided to leave my role as a residential worker four years ago, because I wanted to care for young people in a more personal way, rather than in shifts. I remember thinking I would have loved to take some of these children I was working with home with me.
I generally foster 14 or 15 year olds. I like teenagers because they are at a stage in their lives where they are finding themselves and I like being part of that journey. It can be difficult for children who experience trauma and loss in their teenage years, but I enjoy being part of that transition. You need to be consistent and strong, as they often feel they are falling apart inside. My social worker gets back to me quickly and is always there for me. She is a highly experienced person and we regularly talk in a lot of detail about placements.
The best thing you can ever have as a foster carer is a sense of humour. You need to be very broad minded and having attachment training is crucial because you have to remember these children were created and you’ve got to try and unravel some of their layers. You have to look beyond the challenging behaviour and remember them when they were younger. I often do this by looking at photos of them when they were much younger, you can see they have often experienced a very frightening world.
Ashley is pictured above, left, with fellow Placement Plus foster carer, Michelle Aldred.