Opinion: Chance to give a young person a fresh start ...

Cllr Janet Sanderson and Ben with members of the Fostering North Yorkshire team.
Cllr Janet Sanderson and Ben with members of the Fostering North Yorkshire team.

As Foster Care Fortnight draws to a close on Sunday, Fostering North Yorkshire has been taking part and celebrating the achievements of its fostering families like Ben’s during the past fortnight.

The annual campaign is The Fostering Network’s chance to raise the profile of fostering and to show how foster care transforms lives. It is also the UK’s biggest foster carer recruitment campaign.

Fostering North Yorkshire (FNY) is part of North Yorkshire County Council and has an impressive record of placing children and young people in care with local foster families. More than 300 children are looked after by the county’s foster carers every year and FNY is seeking to recruit a number of new carers in 2018. This includes needing people interested in full-time care and also those able to offer overnight short breaks for disabled children with additional or complex needs.

Foster caring is a challenging yet immensely rewarding experience and foster families like Ben’s often describe it as the best thing they’ve ever done – and often the best fun they’ve had.

North Yorkshire’s fostering families come from a wide range of backgrounds and family make-up, but what they all have in common is their desire to provide a secure and welcoming home for some of the county’s most vulnerable children.

People often think they can’t foster because they are single, work or are too old, but none of these things matter. We’re looking for people who have space in their home – and their heart – for a young person and can offer them a positive and loving home environment. By becoming a foster carer, people have the opportunity to change a young person’s life for good. How satisfying is that?”

Fostering with FNY also brings with it generous tax-free payments and allowances, and while this is not the main motivation for most foster carers, additional income streams can be very welcome. For example, an accredited foster carer receives more than £300 each week tax-free for fostering a child aged 11 to 15, equivalent to £15,785 per annum (example is based on a 52-week placement).

Here is Ben’s story

“My parents Eric and Moy live near Bedale. They’ve fostered an amazing 120 plus children and young people in their time as carers with the County Council. Some came and went quickly as emergency or respite placements; some stayed for many months and continue to keep in touch; and some simply never left.

“Our foster children often arrived with very little and lots of bad memories, but my parents did an amazing job to make them welcome and set them on the right path to turn their lives around. Many of them still keep in touch and let us know about everything they’re achieving in their lives and how they are enjoying having children of their own.

“My birth sister Emma and I can’t remember a time when we didn’t have at least one foster child in the house. Then things got even more lively when our adpted brothers and sister arrived – and never left.

“Nick, Chloe, Tom and Cieran are full siblings and came to join our family as foster placements. Nick and Chloe came first, followed by Tom and Cieran a few months later, and when an adoptive family couldn’t be found for all four of them to stay together, my parents decided to step in and offer that forever family themselves.

“So we went from being a family of four who fostered to being a happy family of eight – who just kept on fostering.

Emma and I know what an important part our brothers and sisters play in our lives. They’re also doing what makes them happy – including running a mini farm with a flock of 20 sheep, and running a successful small scale market garden business. And they’ve all done well at school.

“My parents have always wanted to help turn young lives around – and they have. Thanks for everything, Mum and Dad”.

l For more information about becoming a foster carer with Fostering North Yorkshire, visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/fostering or call Fostering North Yorkshire on 01609 534654.