Fostering North Yorkshire: Foster carers speak about their passion for helping children
Foster carers in North Yorkshire have shared emotional stories about the help they have provided to encourage more recruits amid a growing demand for the service.
The number of children being taken into care in North Yorkshire has risen since 2019 due to several reasons, including the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis which have placed additional stress on families.
Foster carers John and Karen Pownall, from Whitby, have fostered for the past five years. They are pictured with North Yorkshire Council’s placement and fostering manager, Alan Tucker (left).
Fostering North Yorkshire has also seen an increase in the number of unaccompanied children asylum seekers in the past few years.
Foster Care Fortnight, which starts today (May 15), is The Fostering Network’s annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering. Eleven foster carers from Fostering North Yorkshire have come together to share what they feel are the benefits of doing such a rewarding, but challenging job.
Videos of the reasons they are proud to care will be played across North Yorkshire Council’s social media channels during Foster Care Fortnight. These include the difference the carers make to the children in their care, the training and support given by Fostering North Yorkshire which includes nationally accredited courses and the peer support that the carers develop.
North Yorkshire Council’s executive member for children and families, Cllr Janet Sanderson, said: “Every child has the right to grow up in a loving home where their needs are met and they are given the chance to live thriving lives. This fortnight is an opportunity to give thanks and show our support for our foster carers, who make an invaluable difference in the lives of children and young people.
“As a foster carer, you can support children who have had a difficult start in life to reach their full potential. You can transform lives.
“We need more foster carers to join North Yorkshire’s dedicated fostering community to care for children and young people. By becoming a foster carer you are not only joining a community that is welcoming, but one that provides valuable support to other foster carers should they need it.”
John Pownall, 59, from Whitby, has fostered for five years with his 57-year-old wife, Karen. The couple are from Whitby.
Mr Pownall said: “You take on a traumatised child and help them back into education and integrate them back into society. It makes me feel better and it’s a wonderful thing to do. I’ve noticed that I’m a different person because of fostering. I’m more patient and empathetic with others and it’s changed my life for the better.”
Alison Blacker, 51, and Paul Blacker, 55, are both from Scarborough. Ms Blacker has fostered for 17 years while her husband has fostered for 25 years.
Ms Blacker said: “It’s such a rewarding job to be able to meet the day-to-day needs of the children we care for. We are there for them when needed and provide a secure base.”
Her husband added: “I get a real thrill to see the children we’ve had when they’re in their late teens or 20s and they’ve moved on with their lives. They’ve matured, they’ve realised their worth and they still come and see us as part of our family.”
Fostering North Yorkshire is in need of carers right now and is highlighting the fact that fostering is more than just a place to stay, as it is often a challenging role due to the previous experiences of the children in care.
There are opportunities for different types of fostering and Fostering North Yorkshire works with its foster carers to find the right fit for their own work and family commitments.
The team makes sure carers have the right training and support, plus there are generous tax-free payments and allowances.