Kent County Council has recognised some the most dedicated disabled children foster carers in the county.
A recent appreciation event saw 22 foster carers from around Kent pick up awards for outstanding contribution and long service to fostering disabled children.
Some foster carers were recognised for outstanding work in relation to a particular child or a challenging situation. Some stood out because they are sustaining permanent placements and giving children the reliable, loving care they need. Others were thanked for providing short breaks, giving children the adventure of staying away from home and helping families to manage better. Other foster carers were recognised for their dedication to fostering shown by the length of time they have been foster carers.
Debbie Preston-Mcleod and her partner Daniel from Maidstone have been fostering since May 2014. Debbie was awarded a certificate for her outstanding contribution. They have four children aged between six and 13 and one fostered boy aged four. The little boy has multi-sensory impairments and complex medical needs. He was welcomed into their home and is now fully part of the family.
After working in a children’s hospice for 14 years, Debbie decided to make the transition to full-time foster carer so that she and her husband could open their home to a child who needed their care.
She said “At first, a couple of children came to us for respite care on weekends and holidays. Then we did long-term respite so that our own children could get used to having other children in the house. We always hoped for permanency though, and now it’s been almost a year since our young person arrived.
“The children dote on him and include him in everything, they think about him and make sure he’s happy in every situation, it’s lovely to watch. To anyone thinking about fostering; give it a try. Sometimes in the beginning you feel as if you’re wading through toffee but it’s so worth it at the end.
“Once you get that feeling of ‘wow, we’ve done the first year’ it’s all worth it, just the feeling of ‘wow, I’ve done this’. If the thought has ever crossed your mind and you’ve got a spare room, give it a go.
“It helps so many children, even if you do a weekend respite placement it still helps out families. I’m so glad we did this, we’d always talked about it and taking that first step was the best decision.”
Philip Segurola, Director of Specialist Children’s Services said: “Foster carers do an amazing job. Now more than ever we need to show our foster carers how much we appreciate them. These awards are a wonderful way to celebrate the individuals and their families making a difference to a child’s life.
“With the extra pressure we have on all staff in our children’s services due to the increased amount of unaccompanied asylum seeking children coming into Kent we desperately need more people to consider fostering a child. More families are needed in Kent for children with disabilities and learning difficulties, some of whom have complex needs, to give them the chance of a better future.”
Fostering is a paid role and age and experience is not a barrier. Foster carers are fully trained and supported throughout their time fostering with Kent County Council and there are plenty of opportunities to meet with other foster carers.
Foster carers can be single, in a long-term relationship, with or without children and do not need to own their own home. They need a spare room and the determination and understanding to make life better for vulnerable children in Kent.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer and hear first-hand from foster carers, visit Kent County Council’s next fostering event in Ramsgate on Wednesday 4 November:
Wednesday 4 November 2015, (presentation starts at 7pm)
Comfort Inn, Victoria Parade, Ramsgate CT11 8DT
For those who are unable to attend the event, find out more about fostering, visit www.kentfostering.co.uk or speak with one of our Initial Enquiries Advisors on 03000 420 002.
You’re also welcome to attend one of the following information events to find out more:
- Thursday 12 November 2015, 7pm, Angel Centre, Angel Lane, Tonbridge, TN9 1SF
- Tuesday 1 December 2015, 7pm, Thannington Resource Centre, Thannington Road, Canterbury CT1 3XE