Foster carers and staff from across Kent have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to the lives of the county’s children.
More than 120 people were nominated for this year’s Kent County Council’s (KCC) Fostering Appreciation Awards at Leas Cliff Hall in Folkestone.
Children, social workers and other foster carers put forward recommendations to a panel of judges for a range of categories, including outstanding care and contribution to supporting children of all ages, disabled children, keeping sibling groups together and permanency. Special recognition was made to caring for teenagers and emergency care.
Single foster carers and couples were among this year’s winners, some having only been fostering for a few months while others had been looking after Kent children for more than 40 years.
They each received a certificate, trophy and a hamper presented by Mike Angell, Chairman of KCC, Caroline Smith, Interim Assistant Director for Corporate Parenting and Sarah Hammond, Director for Integrated Children’s Services.
Caroline Smith, said: “The awards ceremony celebrated the winning foster carers but also acknowledged that all the foster carers do an amazing job.
“All foster carers who were nominated for an award have received a certificate of recognition, a big thank you was expressed to everyone who took the time to make a nomination.
“I would also like to thank the owners of Leas Cliff Hall for allowing us to use the venue and making this event possible.
“Kent Fostering need more families in the county to consider fostering. It will be the most satisfying and rewarding job that you can do, to change a child’s life.
Michelle and Andrew Milton, from Folkestone, received the new carers award.
Mrs Milton said: “The main benefit for us has definitely been the wonderful children we have had the privilege of looking after.
“We have had some lovely children in our first year and they have all moved on to happy endings and hopefully they will all have good lives. It really opens up your eyes to what families go through and it is one of the most challenging but rewarding jobs you can do.”
Barrie O’Brien, 67, has been fostering for 32 years. He started as a short-term foster carer and is now providing a long-term placement for three teenage boys. He received an award outstanding care for adolescents.
He said: “On the whole fostering has been extremely rewarding for me, especially when you have children you had as seven-year-olds come back at the age of 27 with their own families.
“There are some times when you do have hard moments, but when you have a child who feels on top of the world because of your support, it’s the best feeling.
“My children keep me young. I’m 67 and I’m still climbing mountains with them and dragging them up with me!”
“To anyone who is thinking of becoming a foster carer- I’d say just try it and you probably will find it is something you really enjoy. The foster carers and social workers are a great team and you will be more than welcome.”
Katy Mashford is a single foster carer from Ashford. She won an award for outstanding family contribution for her work looking after two boys, aged nine and 17.
She said: “I love fostering as it hasn’t only changed their lives, it’s changed my own and my children’s as well. Seeing them grow into young individuals and grow every day is fantastic.
I never thought I could become a foster carer, I’m a single carer and for that reason alone I thought it wouldn’t be possible, but it is. If anyone body is interested, they should contact KCC or attend one of the events. They are lovely and will help you step by step throughout the process.”
KCC is recruiting new foster carers in all areas of Kent to care for Kent children.
We particularly need homes for older children, brothers and sisters who need to stay together, disabled children, teenagers , emergency placements and parent and child placements.
To find out more about fostering or to transfer to Kent Fostering call 03000 420 002 or visit www.kentfostering.co.uk.
Video: Kent County Council’s Fostering Appreciation Awards 2018
Sarah Hammond said: “It is so important we celebrate and champion the fantastic work our foster carers do in supporting our looked after children.
“They are looking after some of the most vulnerable children that the council is responsible for and the care, love and attention they provide is second to none. They do a fantastic job that can go on 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Their input means our children have every opportunity to grow and thrive as young adults.”
Mr Angell added: “I was delighted to have been invited to present the awards at this year’s appreciation event, I feel it is very important we recognise the wonderful work undertaken by our foster carers and staff, often unlooked for behind the scenes.
“I hope more people will consider fostering with the council and joining our wonderful team.”
For further information about the Kent County Council Press Office contact 03000 422589 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes for journalists
The Fostering Appreciation Awards took place on Wednesday, November 14.