Could you foster a Hackney child? Find out more during Foster Care Fortnight
Foster Care Fortnight (1-14 June) celebrates the remarkable work of everyone involved in foster care across the country. Here in Hackney, we have a team of carers who dedicate themselves to caring for some of Hackney’s most vulnerable young people.
Joy Harris, 50, is chair of the Hackney Foster Carers Council, a group which works in partnership with Hackney Council to support foster carers with activities, coffee mornings and newsletters. Joy has been fostering for Hackney for almost five years, and has looked after five children and two mothers with babies in that time.
Like many people, Joy first started fostering because it was a job that fitted with her existing commitments. She said: “Fostering fitted in with what I wanted to do, and allowed me to look after my elderly father”.
Since then she says she’s not looked back.
Every day is a challenge but it’s hugely rewarding.
Making a change, providing security, giving love that someone may never have had. It help brings out the child in you, you laugh endlessly and begin to see the joy on their faces.
Nationwide, a shortage of foster carers means that carers like Joy are invaluable. They support children who, due to family difficulties, illness, bereavement or abuse, cannot remain with their birth parents. Patience, the ability to work well with fostering support teams and a passion for caring for children are all essential attributes for foster carers.
In return, they get excellent professional training and development opportunities and the support of clinicians and social workers in fostering services. Foster carers also receive an allowance that covers the cost of caring for a child and includes a professional fee recognising the valuable work they do.
Being a foster carer isn’t always easy. Joy explained: “The first few weeks after a new placement are the hardest. “The child can have experienced traumas, and once you pull all the layers away, it can be hard. It’s a two-way process though, the child teaches us about what life was and we’re teaching them about what life could be… they also sort out your mobile phones and computers for you!
“After those first few weeks, and as the child and foster carer understand each other more, the reward is that they trust you, and that’s when you know you’re doing a good job and what makes it so incredibly rewarding.”