Stockton Council's looked-after children have shown that fostering can be a life changing experience for both themselves and their foster carers.
Looked after young person Lucy, 16, has excelled in her GCSE exams and is proof that with the support and care of foster carers and her own drive to succeed, young people in care can flourish in education.
On receiving her results, Lucy surprised her foster carers with a bunch of flowers and chocolates to say thank you for all of their support.
Lucy said: "I was so happy and proud of myself for receiving the grades and I just wanted to show how much my foster carers mean to me and how grateful I have been of their support. I am now looking forward to starting college and studying Childcare."
Her foster carers said: "We were delighted with Lucy's results and so proud of her. We rang around everyone telling them how well she had done. Knowing that Lucy has a future and that she appreciates our love and support makes fostering so rewarding and worthwhile."
Lucy has been living with her foster carers for seven years and is every bit a part of the family. "When I first arrived at the house I didn't believe that this was where I would be staying as I had never seen a house this big." said Lucy.
Her foster carers explain how when she came to stay she couldn't turn a computer on or even write her own name. The couple said: "The teachers and the school have been fantastic with her and she has come on leaps and bounds."
Lucy said: "I was bullied when I first joined school but I had the confidence to deal with it and not let it affect me. I found school hard to start with but once I settled down I really enjoyed it, especially science and IT."
A true inspiration and a role model for looked after children, teachers enlisted Lucy's help to talk to other looked after children at the school and act as a mentor for them.
She said: "There was one time when I noticed a little boy from year seven being bullied for being in care. He was too scared to tell the teachers or stand up for himself so I made sure he knew that he could talk to me and I kept a look out for him. He has a lot more confidence now and I know that he will be fine."
The teachers all speak highly of Lucy and are delighted with her progress. Equally Lucy believes the teachers have had a big part to play in her achievements. She said: "If I had to give advice to young people in care I would tell them to remember that the teachers are there to help you and have been told what you have been through."
Lucy also attends Stockton Council's 'Lets Take Action Group'. This is the local voice of looked after young people in the area and Lucy was instrumental in coming up with the group's name. She said: "The group gives us a chance to talk about what it is like in care and discuss possible solutions to any problems we might have. The name came from discussions about what children need and what children get."
Lucy is keen to encourage more foster carers to come forward to look after children and young people in care. She said: "If you like kids and respect their needs and feelings then go for it."
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