Norfolk County Council is supporting Foster Care Fortnight
14 May 2018
It’s Foster Care Fortnight (14 to 27 May) and Norfolk County Council is supporting the Fostering Network’s annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and show how foster care transforms lives.
Councillor Stuart Dark, Vice-chair of the Children’s Services Committee, said: “Foster carers play a vital role in the lives of the county’s most vulnerable children and we really do value their contribution. Fostering is a skilled task and can be very demanding but the role also bring immense rewards, especially when carers see a young person’s life begin to change and improve.
“There are just over 1,000 children in care in the county and the majority are looked after by foster carers. We want children to live at home with their families wherever possible but as this is not always safe, we always need more carers to provide a secure and stable home. So if you’ve been thinking about fostering, I urge you to take that first step and get in touch.”
Alison has been a foster carer for 14 years. She was inspired by her own mother and father who fostered for 40 years. Alison grew up with her two birth siblings and eight children who her parents cared for on a long-term basis.
Alison and her husband are looking after two brothers who have been living with them for five years. The boys had been badly neglected. They didn’t understand many of the everyday things most of us take for granted such as clean clothes and bedding and regular meals.
“When the boys first came to us it was as if they didn’t have any feelings,” recalls Alison. “They didn’t show any emotion or react to anything. They didn’t cry, they didn’t even respond to hot or cold. It was as if they had become de-sensitised through neglect.”
Alison made a point of reassuring the boys they were safe, that there would always be food and drink and they could ask for it if they were hungry or thirsty. “It’s very important to be consistent and set boundaries that help them feel secure. Children who are used to abusive behaviour expect to get that reaction so they push your buttons to test how far they can go. It can be extremely challenging and sometimes it feels like you are getting nowhere. But if you stick with it, eventually you do begin to make progress.”
A turning point came when the youngest child fell off a climbing frame at a playground and burst into tears. “I was delighted to see him cry,” said Alison. “The other mums were surprised by my reaction but it was the first time he had shown any emotion, so I knew things were starting to change.”
For Alison, one of the big rewards of fostering the boys is seeing how they have come on since they arrived: “Seeing the sparkle in their eyes and hearing them laugh is amazing. They were children who didn’t even understand what feeling excited meant – now they are learning new things every day and having new experiences which are transforming their lives. People who haven’t seen them for a while see a huge difference – that’s so good to hear.”
To find out more about fostering in Norfolk visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/fostering or drop into one of the council’s free information events. The next events are on Wednesday 23 May at Watton Library (10am to 12 noon) and then Attleborough Library (1.30 to 3.30pm). Visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/fosteringevents for more information.