"We foster as a family"
As part of Foster Care Fortnight 2017, we caught up with one of our carers who told us about her experiences of fostering alongside her family.
Philippa and Stuart have been fostering for Gloucestershire County Council since 2014 and have helped five children to find permanent homes in that time. They are currently fostering two young girls.
They also have four children of their own, who are 19, 18, 16 and 12.
Philippa explained how her family has supported her throughout the years:
She said, “We foster as a family, which sounds like a cliché, but I couldn’t do it without my children. They can connect with the girls in a way that I just can’t.
“There’s nothing more fun than a foster sibling chasing you round the house, being silly and bringing a level of normality to a child who is feeling anything but settled. They create ‘family’ for the child whilst they wait to go back home.”
When asked about the role a foster carer plays in a young person’s life, Philippa explained; “We can never replace their family and wouldn’t want to. It’s our job to help them find their ‘Forever Family’ and that’s what we do.
“They might not want to engage with Stuart and me as ‘parent’ figures, but they are very happy to relate to our children as ‘siblings’.”
She said that, although there is a lot of joy in having foster children in the home, it can be hard to say goodbye:
“As a family we have moved children to adoption before and it never gets any easier. I always feel a gut wrenching grief but I’ll also be really excited and happy for them as they start their new chapter in life.
“My children also grieve terribly when they leave and I often ask them if they want to foster again, but every time there is an unreserved yes so I suppose that’s the best test of how much they enjoy it!”
Tammy Wheatley, head of service for fostering and adoption at Gloucestershire County Council, said: “Foster Care Fortnight is a brilliant way for us to really put a spotlight on the role of a foster carer and let people know about what a fantastic opportunity it is.
“Carers like the Philippa and Stuart make such a massive contribution to the lives of children in the county, giving them a safe, loving home.
“We need even more people to come forward to foster children in need of a home. Pick up the phone and speak to one of our team today to find out how you could help to transform the life of a child.”
Becoming a foster carer offers a new career path that includes financial support and the opportunity to undergo training and learn new skills.
The council accepts applications to foster from all sectors of the community. There is no upper age limit to foster and people can be single, married, co-habiting, in a heterosexual or same sex relationship, own or rent their home.
Applicants need to be over 21 and have a spare room (or spare rooms for siblings) in their home.
For more information contact the county council’s fostering team on 01242 532654 or go to www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/fostering.