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Could you be a foster carer? For those of you wondering what it entails we met two families who talk about their experiences and why they give up their time, their love and their home to help these troubled kids.

Steph and Ciaran have two children, a toddler and a new baby, and have been foster carers for several years. After going through interviews with the fostering panel and being thoroughly vetted the couple were approved to take youngsters aged from newborn to 18 years.

Their fi rst foster child was a three year old boy who came to them as an emergency placement following a breakdown in his family care, but the youngster ended up staying eight months.

“ Foster carers should never be a replacement family for a child who comes to you, but they do need to feel secure and cared for. We are not here to replace their parents and visits to parents, if possible, are always encouraged,” says Ciaran.

Picture posed by models

The view of many people considering taking up fostering is that an older child would be more troublesome than a younger one.

“ Personally, I think you can reason with teenagers and if they are not happy, talk things through,” said Steph.

“ I’ve always wanted to look after and care for people, maybe because of my childhood. As foster carers we look after a youngster’s emotional needs, off er praise, comfort and a routine. Some kids have never had this in their life and many don’t have a male role model so it is good that Ciaran is the main carer and I work during the day. This works really well for us and our young family.”

A foster family are legally only allowed to have up to three looked after children. When the couple decided to foster they made a call to Newport City Council and a social worker visited the home to discuss the reasons behind their decision.

“ We were made to think really hard about what fostering involves and the assessment is very thorough but it needs to be. You should really want to do fostering and explore all the advice and be prepared to have you own family life go under the microscope too. But the rewards are great when you see you have brought about a positive change in a child’s life,” said Steph.

Children are placed in foster homes for a wide variety of reasons. They could be neglected or abused, and need to learn they can be in a safe environment with a routine they can trust.

Carol and Kevin decided to foster after their two sons joined the armed forces and they had room in their large family home.

“ We have always been involved in youth groups with our own sons and Kev ran a football team for years, plus we always felt this was a large family home and we had the space. We did the training and worked with social services and while I was working we off ered respite care at weekends. When I was made redundant I decided we could off er full time fostering” said Carol.

The couple were asked to have a brother and sister they had cared for on a weekend on a full time basis after their mum was taken into hospital. They knew from social workers that the children had been moved from home to home and found it hard to settle anywhere.

“ We found the kids didn’t value anything because they had never had their own stuff so we created a bedroom each for them. We wanted them to feel safe and part of the family while still keeping contact with their mum” said Carol.

The couple believe the children now benefi t from having a good diet, a routine and know behaviour boundaries and are learning self respect.

“ We’ve had tantrums and rows but they are just testing us out. They know we are here for them. It is a wonderful thing to see these children grow in confi dence. We are fair but fi rm” she said.

Because of their family circumstance the children have now been placed with Carol and Kevin full time while helping the youngsters to maintain relations with their mum.

“ It’s a rollercoaster of emotions sometimes but we deal with things as they come up and back each other up, we are a team, we’re all a team. They are good kids” said Kevin.

And advice to people thinking of fostering. Says Carol: “ It’s tough at times but the rewards are great. Talk to social workers, learn the pitfalls, use your iniative and be diplomatic.”

10 For more news visit ........................................................................................................................................................... NEWPORT MATTERS MARCH 2016

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