Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is calling for people to take advantage of a brand new year, and the possibility of new beginnings, by enquiring about fostering or adopting a child.
The Council is holding an information session for prospective foster carers and adopters on Tuesday, 24 January, 6.30pm to 8pm at Stockton Central Library on Church Road.
Foster carers and adopters come from all walks of life and all kinds of people may have the commitment, skills and experience to offer a child a positive experience of family life.
Councillor Ann McCoy, Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council's Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, says: "I would urge anyone who has considered fostering or adoption to drop in to the information session for an informal discussion with our Child Placement Team. There is no pressure to make a commitment but it could set you off on the life-changing experience of being part of a child’s journey.”
Val (64 years) and Paul Jackson (68 years) have a big family of their own with four grown-up children, 20 grandchildren and one great grandchild. Alongside this, they followed their lifelong dream of being foster carers and were approved by Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council around 16 years ago. Val explained what inspired them. She said: “When I was a young girl one of our neighbours was a foster carer. Even at that young age she inspired me to think I could be like her and help others. Now, nearly sixty years on, I can’t imagine life any other way”.
Throughout their time as carers, Val and Paul have looked after children and babies of various ages, and now they have five children with them – ranging from five months to 17 years old. Paul said: “Every child is different and I’ve gained new skills as we’ve gone along. No foster carer or parent starts out knowing it all. The most important thing is having the commitment, love and understanding, and the rest seems to fall into place from there.”
Those who go forward with the process of fostering or adopting get professional support and guidance, and comprehensive training, as well as access to local support groups. For foster carers, a generous weekly allowance is provided to cover costs.
Residents unable to attend the information session but interested in finding out more can get an information pack by visiting www.stockton.gov.uk/fosteringandadoption or by telephoning the Council’s Child Placement Team on 01642 526218.