We're urging more families to become foster parents once their children leave the family home for university
With over 200,000 18-year olds from across the UK being offered a university place this year, we are looking for more parents to open up their hearts and homes to welcome children in need of care, support and love.
The latest heart-breaking statistics from Ofsted show that 53,040 children were in care as of 31st March 2018, an increase of just over 1,000 compared to 2017 figures. This staggering number of children is enough to fill Liverpool’s Anfield Stadium.
To support the growing number of young people entering care, it’s currently estimated that over 8,000 families are required to become foster parents.
Fostering is a professional and paid role that welcomes people from all walks of life, but those who have brought up their own children will already have the experience and life skills that are so sought after in foster carers.
Tracy Livesey, commented; “As children grow up and move on to new adventures, it’s not rare to see parents going through what’s known as Empty Nesters Syndrome where they can experience feelings of grief and loneliness.”
She continued; “While not a clinical condition, research has shown that it can result in depression and a loss of purpose. Instead of focusing on these negative feelings, we want parents to reflect on their life’s purpose and make them aware of how valuable they could be to a foster child.
“As they enter this new stage in life where children are leaving home, they’ll be in the perfect position to welcome a new child as their home will already be set up accommodatingly. Not only this but as they have cared for their own child, they’ll have built up so much experience and care, making them invaluable to a child in need.”
Marion and Phil Austin are one such couple who decided to open up their ‘empty nests’ to children in need of care and support. When their own children went off to university, they were left in a four-bedroom house with a lot of love and support to give, but no one to give it to.
They decided to initially become respite carers which, while being a steep learning curve, provided them with the rewarding experience of seeing the real difference they could make in a child’s life. Now, they have two long-term foster children who are a constant source of love and delight.
When discussing the experience, Marion commented; “When our boys left for university, we knew we had a lot more love and care to give so we decided to foster. Our children were always supportive of our decision to foster and have been so happy to see our experiences that our eldest is now a respite foster carer too.
“It can be tough at times, but it’s incredibly rewarding to see even the smallest changes in children as they respond positively to your love and support. It’s been those moments that we’ve found the most beautiful on our fostering journey.”
She continued; “To those who have seen their own children fly the nest and feel like they still have a lot to offer, we’d tell them to foster. Yes, it can be daunting, but speak to other foster carers and go through the process as you’ll immediately see the difference you can make.
“We’ve changed their lives in a way we never thought we could.”
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