FOSTER parents do what must be the most undervalued job in the world – helping young people battle through the horrors of a disrupted life and providing love and understanding where it is missing.
Thurrock Council is asking local people to join the national campaign marking this year’s foster care fortnight (13 to 26 May) and get in the frame by becoming a foster carer.
The campaign turns the spotlight on fostering by encouraging people to put themselves “in the frame” and start the journey to becoming a foster carer.
James Foyle, recruitment and retention consultant at the Fostering Network, said: “This year’s theme, Get in the Frame, will encourage more people to foster and get them thinking they have what it takes to offer children a loving home and are ready start the journey to fostering.”
Vashti Allen, 57, has been fostering since 1994 and has worked with children from various backgrounds and nationalities and now concentrates on fostering teenagers.
She says the most rewarding aspect is when she sees the results and the difference she has made to their lives.
But fostering comes with its challenges too, Vashti says: “Raising children is a challenge, whether they’re yours or fostered – the difference is they are not your children; you don’t have the history, you have to work that bit harder.
“To be successful you need lots of patience, a good understanding of yourself and the children. You also have to be committed to carry something through because changes won’t happen overnight.
“But most of all you have to care, you have to be there for the foster children just as you would be for your own child.”
Jacqui Couves, 54, has been fostering for four-and-a-half-years with her husband.
After working with children for many years they went to an information evening to get an insight into what fostering is all about.
Since becoming a foster carer, Jacqui feels the support she receives from Thurrock Fostering is second to none.
“When you need someone to turn to, there’s always someone there – from social workers to other carers and training and support groups. There is always someone who can find an answer.”
Vashti feels the same way saying: “The training is great from Thurrock Council as is the support–for example some weeks back I had to ring my supervisor on a Sunday to help sort out an issue.”
Jacqui was anxious when she had her first placement, but explained: “When the child arrives, you have to take it one day at a time and things just improve as you go along.”
Both Vashti and Jacqui agree the most rewarding aspect is when the child overcomes the challenges and their self-esteem builds.
There will be an information evening for prospective foster carers on Wednesday 22 May, at 7pm at Orsett Hall.
If you believe you can be a member of this group of people who care for some of Thurrock’s most vulnerable children, put yourself in the frame by visiting thurrockfostering.gov.uk/ Facebook.com/thurrockfostering today
When asked what advice she would give, Jacqui said: “You need to have it in your mind that you’ve got a part of your heart to give,”