Fostered teenagers are just like any teenagers and more remarkable carers are needed to help take care and support them in Wirral.
With around 821 children in care in Wirral, 341 of which are teenagers, we caught up with foster carers Garry and Pam who wanted to share the rewarding journey they are on fostering teenagers.
We’re Garry and Pam and we started fostering eight years ago after a long conversation with some friends who were already fostering two girls. We’ve been running our architectural practice for 25 years and after several years living with just the two of us in a five bedroom house after our children left home, we felt we could start the process of becoming foster carers.
We are now registered to foster on a long-term basis and currently we look after siblings who are 14 and 17. However, we do occasionally look after children of different ages for respite.
Helping others is extremely satisfying and knowing you are providing a secure and stable environment for a child at their time of need is one of the most rewarding aspects.
When a child comes into care they are at an exceptionally low point in their life. What they have been through is traumatic in itself but being placed into a strange home with people who are effectively strangers to look after them, is extremely daunting. But every child deserves a champion, an adult who never gives up on them and who fights for what they are entitled to. You are their advocate and their lifeline to a stable future.
Before coming into care a child is likely to have had problems at school and may not have been achieving their full academic abilities. With less to worry about at home, it helps them focus on schoolwork. With our help and support, this enhances their prospects to develop into a well-rounded individual. For us, having come from a family where no members had been to university and it wasn’t even something that was mentioned or discussed, one child is now on course to do extremely well in her A levels next year and due to apply for.
Caring for a child long-term is a serious responsibility. There are difficulties but it has many benefits including a joy in developing a relationship that can last a lifetime. Becoming a foster carer opens your eyes to some of the problems of society. You can never fully appreciate how this impacts on the wellbeing of children but fostering enables you to start to find out and to help the child to overcome these issues.
When you start looking into fostering, you will inevitably turn to the internet. You can find many private organisations offering a similar service to the council, quoting generous payments at a higher rate than that paid by local authorities but there is more to fostering than what you are getting paid. Every child has a social worker responsible for them and every foster carer has their own supervising social worker looking after them. Our social worker has been fantastic in supporting us, being there when needed and always looking out for opportunities not only for us to develop our skills as foster carers but also opportunities for the looked after children in our care.
Fostering can be demanding but the rewards far exceed the negatives. Children respond well to carers who give them time, listen to them and ensure they are in a safe and rewarding haven. Giving a child the chance of a stable future is at the heart of what we do.