Thousands of foster carers need to be recruited each year.
Foster Care Fortnight (8-21 May), run by the UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network, not only calls for more people to consider becoming carers, but also celebrates the amazing work that foster carers already do, so that everyone can see their passion, dedication and expertise.
There is a particular need for people to come forward who think they might have the right skills and experience to care for teenagers.
Melanie has been a foster carer for ten years. Most of that time has been dedicated to caring for new born babies, but she currently looks after a 15-year-old boy with severe attachment disorder, learning difficulties and epilepsy.
She says: ‘It has been a big learning curve for me. The team involved is excellent in their support and his social worker is a very dedicated, caring person. We have managed to get him to attend school, his grades are up and he has had 100% attendance for the last two terms. There’s a real sense of achievement when a child achieves a milestone you were told they would never do.’
She admits it hasn’t been easy at times but fostering has changed her life for the better.
‘My life is unrecognisable from ten years ago - it has purpose because I make a difference and now I even have a diploma in health and social care. I have friends in fostering who are the same and we find support and love from each other.’
More foster carers like Melanie are needed across the country to make a huge difference in the lives of looked after children.
Melanie says, ‘There is a desperate need for more placements for teenagers. Not every teenager has multiple health conditions but all of them need a safe place to live, somewhere they can learn to laugh again and learn that life can be good.
‘No one should be scared about taking on a teenager as the support is there for you. My first teenager came to live with me at 14 and she has enriched our family, teaching us to have joy in the small things as she had had so little in her life growing up. She is now 28, a mother of four and my greatest achievement!’
If you would like to find out more about Foster Care Fortnight or becoming a foster carer, visit: www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk