Foster Care Fortnight: could you foster a child?
Monday 15 May 2023: Hillingdon Council is celebrating Foster Care Fortnight (15 to 28 May) and its remarkable foster carers, who provide care and support for children, babies and young people in need of a loving home.
Cllr Susan O'Brien, Hillingdon Council's Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Education, said: "I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all of Hillingdon's excellent foster carers. Taking in a child and providing them with a safe, loving home in which they can develop and grow in confidence, is one of life's greatest gifts. Which is why we offer all our foster carers 24-hour professional support, financial support, training and contact with other Hillingdon foster carers.
"This Foster Care Fortnight, we are asking all adults aged 25 and over, to consider if they could become a foster carer and make a difference to a child's life."
Maureen and Les are the council's longest standing foster carers and the most experienced, having looked after more than 100 children over the past 38 years. Maureen and her husband currently foster a 14-year-old girl, who's been with them from 10 days old, and a seven-month-old baby. They offer a mix of short and long-term care.
Maureen was originally a child minder, but she preferred the opportunity to care for children full time. She said: "It's nice to have the foster children around-the-clock, you get much closer, there's more of a bond and you get a nice relationship with them. It's sad when the children go but you just think 'yeah, we gave them a good start in life.'"
She talks about how hard it is to see children who've clearly had a difficult start in life, and how she works to turn things around for them. She said: "I've got a very cheeky little boy looking up at me and laughing on the floor now! He's come on in leaps and bounds in the few months we've had him. These are the sort of things that make it worthwhile, when you see these children moving on and happy."
Maureen speaks about the sense of purpose that fostering has given her and Les and how they value the relationships they've built over the years. In addition, fostering has also been good for their family. She said: "We have three sons who are very hands on dads now. I was there when my eldest son's youngest boy was born, the midwife said: 'shall I dress him?' And my son said: 'no, I can do it!' Because they'd always helped with the foster babies it's made them better people, they're very caring dads."
Maureen and Les are part of a team of Hillingdon carers who offer support to one another. They also work with their social workers, the children's social workers, the children's parents, schools and other support staff to provide the best outcomes for children in care. She said: "A good carer has to be caring, it's in the name! They also need to be understanding of the parents. I've always said to the mums: 'at the end of the day he's still your baby and you're still his mum.' As a foster carer you're there to look after the child.
"You also need to work with the social workers as we're all working for the same result: children to be happy, move on and do well. And I see him right now laughing, and that's what it's all about, seeing the children happy and getting more out of life."
The council is hosting a range of events and drop-in sessions this Foster Care Fortnight, where people can come and talk to the foster care team, other foster carers, and learn more about becoming a foster carer.
Find out more at www.hillingdon.gov.uk/fostering