Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is appealing to local people to consider becoming foster carers for the Borough.
It’s not only young children and babies who need homes and loving families across the Stockton-on-Tees area. The Council is also looking for foster carers to give security and a supportive environment to sibling groups, older children and teenagers.
Anyone who thinks they have the right skills, experience and commitment to offer a child or young person a positive experience are being asked to contact the Child Placement team at the Council for an informal chat.
Penny, 40, and husband David, 40, of Linthorpe, have been foster carers with Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council for over two years. They’ve looked after nine children on long-term and short-term placements, and for respite care. Some of these children have been siblings.
Penny and David, who have two daughters (aged 10 and 7), explain what first made them open their hearts and their home to fostering. “It was a way for us to extend our family. We’d always wanted three children, so with our two daughters – one adopted and one from birth – it was a way to make our dreams become a reality many times over.”
“Fostering is joyous and heart-breaking all at the same time. Joyous because you see children grow within themselves and become more secure; heart-breaking because one day you have to say goodbye. It doesn’t get any easier with each child because they’re all unique – each one is special.
“To remind myself a child won’t be with us for ever, when they arrive I buy a really nice suitcase and put it on the top of my wardrobe. It’s only for me to see, but it helps me remember their stay with our family is only a small part of their journey. It doesn’t make saying goodbye any easier, but it’s my way of keeping focused and prepared.”
Penny says she would recommend fostering to anyone who loves children. “If you’ve got the physical space capacity in your home, and a longing to nurture and care for children, I say go for it. The support through the local Council is excellent. That’s been key to us making a success of fostering.”
Penny works part-time for Fresh Start in Education with children excluded from mainstream education, whilst her husband is a Coronary Care Nurse at James Cook University Hospital. In her spare time, Penny volunteers for The Bungalow Partnership, which offers support to children with emotional, social and behavioural needs, and also holds drama workshops for young people.
Those who go forward with the process of fostering a child will get professional support and guidance, and comprehensive training as well as access to local support groups.
Councillor Ann McCoy, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “It was fascinating to hear Penny’s positive experiences of being a foster carer. It is evident that she has given so much to some special children and young people in our Borough and it’s great that she has acknowledged the support provided by the Council.
“Many of our carers say that fostering is the best step they’ve ever taken and I would urge anyone who thinks that they may be able to provide a child or sibling groups with a new start in life to get in touch for a chat with an officer from the Child Placement team and explore the idea further.”
To find out if you could be eligible to foster a child and to change someone’s life, contact Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council on 01642 526218 or visit www.stockton.gov.uk/fostering.
They will arrange for you to have an informal chat and receive an information pack.