Date Published: 18 May 2021
A Rutland couple who have fostered 35 children over the last 11 years have been speaking about the joy of fostering as part of county-wide campaign to encourage more people to become foster carers.
Louise and her partner Ken are foster carers for Rutland County Council and say the experience has brought so many rewards to the children they foster as well as to them and their two sons Harry, 19, and Tommy, 16.
As part of national Foster Care Fortnight, the couple, who live near Oakham, are encouraging others who are interested in becoming foster carers to contact the council’s fostering team to find out more.
“If you have a heart, empathy and want to help a child, make the call and go for it. It took us a while, but it was right for us and our boys, and the amount of help and support we were given from our support workers was brilliant.” Louise, whose job involves supporting adults with mental health, drug, alcohol and anxiety problems
The couple foster children of all ages, from babies to young adults, usually one at a time and sometimes for just a few weeks. They provide a safe and secure home for emergency, respite, and short-term placements as well as for those transitioning to adoption.
“I’m often asked as a foster carer what brings us the most joy. Seeing a child who doesn’t know you beginning to trust you and to smile and to feel safe and secure in your home is a really nice feeling and it’s rewarding to be supporting someone through what is one of the most difficult times of their lives.Ultimately, the joy of foster caring is the desire and wish to return that child back to their birth family with renewed hope, not only for the child but, hopefully, for the parents as well.” Ken, who is an actor and producer
To be eligible to foster, you need to be over 21, have a spare bedroom and meet certain criteria. People from different backgrounds and all walks of life are encouraged to apply. Extensive training and support is given by Rutland County Council and foster carers receive financial allowances to cover the child’s living costs.
“Foster carers make a hugely positive impact on the lives of young people and on the wider community.Children who require foster care are often extremely vulnerable and may have experienced abuse or been put at risk in some way. It is therefore vital that we find the right people to become foster carers for a role which is not only extremely important but is also tremendously rewarding.” Rutland’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Education, Councillor David Wilby
“There are many misconceptions around fostering. People think you can’t work or go on holiday, or have respite, which isn’t the case. They may also be worried about the impact on their own children, but we treat our foster children as we do our own and our boys have benefited from being part of a wider family. There are joyful and hard times as every situation is different and the best advice is to be as flexible, open, and honest as you can be to gain the child’s trust. Be yourself, calm, kind, and patient – and humour always works.Make the call, don’t sit and think about it for ages, start the process. It’s a joy, you’ll love it.” Louise
For further information about fostering, please visit: www.rutland.gov.uk/fostering or call: 01572 720 942.