Feature: We are happy to share our family, say foster parents

Jason and Tracy Pearson. Foster parents
Jason and Tracy Pearson. Foster parents

TRACY and Jason have been fostering since October 2010.

Having just supported their first two foster children to move on to kinship carers, having lived with them for the past year, Tracy and Jason talked to us about their experiences.

Q. What prompted you to foster?

A. We really wanted to give a child, or children, the opportunities our own children experience, you know, to be part of a nurturing and family orientated home, and to help those children, for however long they were in our care, to experience some level of normality.

Q. What would you say to new carers?

A. There will be periods where your family – and your resilience – is tested. We found our supervising social worker is a huge support, as are the rest of the fostering team, but other outside support is just as important. Make sure you have ‘family time’ to recharge: it’s all too easy to be a fostering family and then lose sight of your own needs or the life you had before you chose this path.

Q. What are the rewards – and the challenges?

A. There are too many rewards to recount them all, but seeing a once withdrawn child gradually let you in is the biggest reward of all. Knowing that child knows they are safe while with you, being an advocate for those children, fighting their corner as you would for your own so they can have a future they deserve whether that’s reunification, extended family or adoption.

“There are daily challenges, from getting dressed in the morning, to dealing with rejection if a parent doesn’t make a contact visit, but you will deal with these head on. The best part of being a fostering family is knowing you’ve been part of something special for however long it lasts.”

Jason and Tracy have two children of their own: 12-year-old Morgan and Caelin, eight. We also asked them about their experience of fostering:

“Although it’s been hard at times, it’s really rewarding knowing that the children who have lived with us have joined in a happy family, “ they said.

“On the good side, having other children around means there’s someone else to play with, or to help if they’re younger than you. Sometimes being a fostering family can make you want a bit more alone time or peace than you may have had before but that’s just down to the age of the children. We feel we’re lucky and are happy to share our family.”

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Fostering Network says 900 carers must be found

MORE than 900 extra foster carers need to be found across the south east of England in the next 12 months, a leading charity has warned today.

The new figures, published by the Fostering Network, show the scale of the challenge for fostering services in the region as they struggle to provide the right foster homes for all the children who need them.

Since 2008 the number of children living with foster families in England has risen by 16 per cent, and is continuing to rise.

There is also an ageing foster carer population and around 14 per cent of the workforce retire or leave every year.

Without these extra families, too many children will have to settle for second best.

This might mean living with a foster carer who is a long way from the child’s home, school and family, or who does not have space for their brothers and sisters, or even living in residential care when fostering has been identified as the right option.

Helen Clarke, recruitment and retention expert at the Fostering Network, said, “All children in care need a family they can grow up with who can love them, be ambitious for them and help them achieve their potential. For a growing number, foster care is the best option.

“By becoming a foster carer people can help the children they welcome into their homes to have the best possible opportunity of a positive future, to do well at school and be successful in later life. Foster carers come from all walks of life, from teachers to factory workers and builders to nurses.

“If you want to work with children and have the right skills to foster, then finding out how you can make a real difference to children across the south east could be a great start to the new year.”

To find out more about becoming a foster carer people should contact their local fostering service, visit www.couldyoufoster.org.uk or call Fosterline on 0800 040 7675.