A Kent foster carer who has been named in the Queen’s birthday honours list has described the nomination as a “complete surprise.”
Teresa Carpenter, who has been fostering for 19 years with her husband Peter, received a letter after being nominated by one of her foster children.
She commented: “I opened the letter a few weeks back and it was just a complete surprise. I was not expecting it at all and I had no idea Nathan did this.”
Nathan, who is now 19, came into Teresa’s care when he was 9 years old and started the nomination two years ago. Teresa sits on KCC’s Corporate Parenting Panel and is also Vice-Chair of Governors for a local school.
“Nathan contacted KCC’s Corporate Parenting Panel and the head teacher of the school to help with the recommendation process of the nomination, it was extremely thoughtful.”
Teresa, who used to own her own business before becoming a foster parent, described the fostering role as “eye-opening.”
“My husband Peter and I made the decision and have not looked back since. We have three children of our own and as they grew older, our six bedroom house was getting empty and we thought why not help those who need a home?”
Over the 19 years, Teresa has looked after 28 children and has been a strong advocate of education to help ensure they can get the best opportunities in life.
“I think it is important to help these children in any way you can and help them get on the right path, I am proud of all my children. They are all family.”
Teresa has been invited to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE and she will be celebrating with her family, who she thanks for their support over the years.
“This MBE is for all of us. It takes more than just one person to raise a child, and without them, it would not have been possible.”
Roger Gough, KCC Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “Our foster carers do an incredible job and it is extremely heart-warming when they are recognised in this way.
“Teresa has opened up her home for almost twenty years and given children an opportunity that may not have been possible without her. We are grateful for her hard work and of course the dedication shown by all our foster carers.
“We still need more foster carers across Kent and I urge individuals to step forward and hear first-hand accounts from those such as Teresa. They too may find that they can make a change to a child’s life.”
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.