MORE foster carers are needed to look after children, in particular teenagers and those with complex needs.
That is the message from Portsmouth City Council as today marks the start of National Foster Care Fortnight.
After a year of general fostering, we were both ready to take that next step.Wendy, a foster carer
People are being invited to learn more about what it takes to become a foster carer and the benefits it can have for everyone involved.
It comes as Foster Care Associates (FCA) had 7,511 children and young people referred to them from councils in the south east last year.
One couple who foster are Guy and Wendy, from Portsmouth. They have been involved in Portsmouth City Council’s fostering scheme for more than 10 years.
Currently they have two children with them, both of whom have complex needs.
Wendy said: ‘We have had one child with us now for 10 years, and we have been fostering a second child for the past 10 months who is nearly two now.
‘Both need a tracheotomy to help them breathe more easily and both have significant communication difficulties.
‘We’ve been given a lot of training on their medical needs. It was a bit scary at first, but you soon get used to it. We also have support from a range of medical professionals, including nurses on a daily basis.’
The pair started off with general fostering and said it helped prepare them for children with more complex needs.
Wendy added: ‘After a year of general fostering, we were both ready to take that next step.
‘We’d say to anyone thinking of this, they really are just children who have specific needs.
‘Fostering children with disabilities has been a great decision for us.
‘They need a routine, a lot of much-needed loving care, and over time you earn a lot of love back in return.’
Portsmouth needs to recruit foster carers for children of all ages, but in particular for teenagers, children with disabilities and as respite carers.
As part of National Foster Care Fortnight, the council has organised an information evening on May 16 between 7pm and 9pm at the Spinnaker Tower.
People interested in learning about becoming a foster carer can speak to the council’s fostering and team and current foster carers.
Alison Jeffery, director of children’s services at the council, said: ‘You can foster regardless of ethnicity, sexuality, gender, whether single or part of a couple, or if you rent or own your own home.
‘A spare room is important, and we are keen to speak to anyone with childcare experience or experience of working with young people or people with disabilities.’