There is no such thing as a typical foster carer. We spoke to some local foster carers in East Sussex about their experiences.
Kes and Lee’s foster story
Kes and Lee from Eastbourne had talked about fostering children when their son was older. Lee told us, “our son was four years old and we wondered how he would cope with it, but it just seemed the right timing. We were interested in the rewards that fostering offers.” The couple, who adopted their son through East Sussex County Council, became foster carers within eight months.
“You’ve got to be a caring person and want to help children. It is a 24/7 job,” said Kes, “anyone can foster, as long as you have a spare room and a loving home, then you can do it. It doesn’t matter if you rent your home, if you are single or part of a same sex couple.”
Lee acknowledges that letting the child go – whether back to their family or to a new home – is ‘bitter sweet’. “You do fall in love with them,” he said, “but you have to, because then you care for them. You know you’ve done a good thing and are setting them up for a good life.”
The council’s support for families is rated as ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted and offers a support group specifically for male foster carers. Kes told Your East Sussex: “The group looks at the man’s role, because in a lot of families the female is the main carer. Although it’s run by a social worker it is a group run by the group.”
Lee explained that having the right support available is pivotal, “I think support is one of the biggest things a foster carer needs. Training is important as well but support is vital.
“There’s lots of support available and you get to meet other foster carers. It feels like one big family.”
The difference a foster carer can make
Michael first came to foster carer Sarah when he was 11-years-old. He’d been in care for a few years and was expected to stay with Sarah and her family in Hastings for six months. Sixteen years later and he’s one of the family.
“I wouldn’t be half the person I am today if it wasn’t for my parents,” said Michael, who after completing his GCSEs, joined the Navy, “If I’d stayed with my real parents, I probably would be doing drugs and up to no good, without a job. I’m so thankful for being fostered, I really am.”
The different types of foster carer
Anja is a respite foster carer in Heathfield and has children for a short amount of time, often only a weekend. Yet the impact that providing a loving home can have on children is still evident. Anja told us: “When they come back through the door and throw themselves at you and cling to you, you think ‘I’m making a difference. I think I’m making you feel good about yourself’.
“We have one little boy that comes to stay with us, and he said to us in the car one time that we weren’t his foster carers, we were his family.”
Anya explains the different types of foster care to us in this video:
Want to know more about fostering?
There are always children waiting for a safe and loving home. If you think you could foster a child, why not have an informal chat with the team at East Sussex County Council? Their information van, launched by author Jacqueline Wilson, visits lots of locations across East Sussex. Find out when they are in your area and drop by.
Find out more about the difference you could make as a foster carer.