Options Fostering are urging people in the West Midlands to spare a thought for the hundreds of children and young people looking for foster care in a safe and loving home in the region during Foster Care Fortnight.
Options Fostering, part of Options, offers a specialist fostering service for children and young people with complex behavioural, emotional and social difficulties, specialising in placing young people that have experienced disruption in their lives and require a stable and consistent family environment.
During Foster Care Fortnight (1 – 14 June) Options Fostering will be out in the community giving advice and providing information about fostering, encouraging people to become foster carers.
Wolverhampton couple, Julie and Graham Smith, have dedicated the last nine years to fostering children through Options. The couple became foster carers after working within organisations that ran children’s homes. They both soon realised that nationally there must be many young people needing foster homes.
Mrs Smith said: “Fostering can be really hard work but it’s just the best work we could ever do. It has also had a massive impact on our lives and the life of our own 17 year old daughter, who has learnt to accept that sharing her parents hasn’t altered her importance in our family. We are immensely proud of our daughter for her understanding and maturity that she has developed through her experiences of being part of a foster family.
“Sometimes it’s difficult to see the differences that we make to the young people we foster but we know we’ve made a difference. The relationships that we have established are forever, they have a place in our hearts and lives.
“We are looking forward to the wedding of our first foster child and our second is due to become a father soon – it’s an exciting time and we know we’ve played a part! It’s not just about the positive impact fostering has on the foster children or carers, but on the children’s natural family too.”
Mr Smith said: “We believe everyone should give fostering a try. Fostering isn’t about being qualified or experienced, that comes with time and the support of a good fostering agency. It’s about caring, sharing your home and family, and opening yourself up to the range of experiences it brings. It’s a privilege to be invited to play a part in young people’s lives and we won’t be giving it up any time soon!”
Fleur Johnson, Agency Manager of Options Fostering said: “We have a fantastic team of foster carers who do an amazing job, but with our agency receiving on average over 100 referrals per month for children between the ages of eight and 16 and with many foster carers retiring and leaving service per year, the need for recruitment has never been more urgent. We’d love to be able help more children in their time of need, but we need more foster carers to be able to do this.
“Our fostering agency is proud to have all the personal elements of a small agency with the added benefits of being backed by a bigger group, meaning we can offer training and full support from our clinical teams.”