Foster carers are being celebrated by Hertfordshire County council - here's how to become a foster carer
Hertfordshire foster carers share their stories
To mark this year’s Foster Care Fortnight (10 – 23 May), Hertfordshire County Council is not only appealing for new foster carers to come forward but also celebrating the success of two foster carer couples who are both celebrating 30 years as foster carers.
The theme for this year's Foster Care Fortnight campaign, run annually by The Fostering Network, is ‘Why we care’, and Hertfordshire County Council has also been highlighting the many options and choices available if you decide to be a foster carer.
There are over 1,000 children and young people in care in Hertfordshire that still need the love and support of a foster family.
Hertfordshire County Council needs to recruit 60 foster carers each year to meet the demand.
Children in care have varying situations and needs so there are many different forms of fostering, from full time fostering to offering short sleepover breaks. Every level of support helps, and each foster carer can choose what is right for them and their family.
Kevin Williams, Chief Executive of The Fostering Network, said: “Foster carers have accomplished incredible things every day throughout this last year.
"In the face of a global crisis that has affected every one of us and impacted all aspects of our society, they have worked tirelessly for the children that they bring into their homes.
"Foster carers have supported children and young people’s education, health, and social wellbeing, and they have also helped to maintain the children’s relationships with the people who are important to them, either through face to face contact or virtually when it has not been safe to meet with others.
“Despite the practical and emotional challenges that the pandemic has brought, foster carers have continued to provide day-to-day support, love and stability to children and young people who can’t live with their birth families – and from the bottom of my heart, I thank them.
“Being a foster carer is to take on a role like no other, so if you are looking for a new lifestyle or career in the aftermath of this dreadful pandemic and you believe you have the right skills, I want you to consider becoming a foster carer.”
Fostering is our way of life
Carole and Mick Knell from Bushey have been dedicated foster carers for 30 years and in total have fostered an incredible 108 children.
Throughout their years of fostering, the couple have been supported by their five children (one of whom is adopted) and who are now all adults.
Carole and Mick explain `why we care’ and why fostering can be so rewarding.
They said: “Fostering is not just a huge part of our lives, it’s our way of life. Our family feel like they are giving something back to children who are not so fortunate. It’s just so worthwhile watching children grow and thrive and being part of that incredible journey.
“We normally foster sibling groups so we can keep families together and we love the laughter and energy children bring into our home. It can be challenging at times and can feel like we are on a roller coaster, but it’s a ride that we enjoy and don’t want to get off. We just love fostering.”
It enhances our lives
Louise and Tim Walkiden from Hoddesdon are another amazing couple who are also celebrating 30 years as foster carers and are currently fostering their 38th baby. They also work part-time.
They said: “We got into fostering as we wanted to help young children in their time of need and felt that there was space in our hearts and home to offer a warm, loving and safe environment in which they can thrive.
“We foster babies, our youngest came to us at only 6 hours old. We have experienced some real challenges in the time that we have been fostering. This has included looking after babies with complex medical needs, but this has allowed us to learn new skills, such as tube feeding, in order to support those children.
“We are still in contact with some children that we have fostered, with ages ranging from 2 - 24 years old. We find fostering very rewarding, it enhances our lives.”
How to become a foster carer
If you want to make a difference and become a foster carer in Hertfordshire, you must be over 21 years old, and have at least one spare room in your home.
Anyone who fosters with Hertfordshire County Council can expect a generous allowance, full training and unrivalled local support. For more information, visit the Hertfordshire County Council website or call the fostering recruitment team on 0800 917 0925.