Make a difference, become a foster carer in Hackney

Hackney Council’s Adoption and Fostering Unit will be hosting a special event in Stoke Newington on 21 May, 4-8pm, to mark national Foster Care Fortnight (11- 24 May).

The ‘think about fostering’ event will be a fun, informal evening where people can come and talk to the Council’s fostering team and foster carers to find out more about fostering, what it entails and why we need foster carers.

New foster carers are always needed and Hackney particularly wants to attract people who can offer a loving home to teenagers, young mothers and babies, siblings and children with disabilities.

By becoming a Hackney foster carer you could help make a difference to the lives of some of the most vulnerable children in the community.

During the next two weeks, Hackney’s fostering team, together with fostering services all over the UK, will be raising the profile of fostering and highlighting the need for more foster carers to come forward.

Debra Douglas from Woodford Green, Essex, decided to become a Hackney foster carer 16 years ago and has gone on to care for more than 200 children in that time.

Fostering is a career that changes lives. Debra is one of more than 140 carers currently registered with Hackney’s Fostering service. However, there are many ‘looked after children’ in the borough and more foster carers are required.

Councillor Rita Krishna, Cabinet Member for Children s Services said: “Foster carers play a vital role in the lives of children who come into local authority care. Hackney Council needs a whole range of foster carers, who reflect the diversity of the children.

“Being a foster carer is challenging and rewarding. If people feel they have the skills, qualities and space to care for a child, I urge them to get in touch and find out more.”

Hackney asks people from all backgrounds to think about fostering, although right now, we would like more carers from the White, African, Caribbean and mixed-racial communities, in order to reflect the diversity of children in care.

There are a many types of fostering schemes that provide care for a range of children and young people with different needs. These include long and short-term foster placements, Multidimensional Treatment Foster Care, disabilities and mother and baby placements.

Those wishing to find out more about fostering in Hackney are invited to attend the ‘think about fostering’ event on Thursday 21 May, 4-8pm, at YumYum Thai Restaurant, 187 Stoke Newington High St N16. To book a place call: 08000 730 418 or visit: Walk-ins are also welcome.

Foster carer case study: Debra Douglas

No two weeks are ever the same in the lively household of Debra Douglas, a Hackney foster carer from Woodford Green, Essex.

The 46-year-old mother of four has been a foster carer with Hackney’s Adoption and Fostering Unit since 1993 and is still as enthusiastic as ever 16 years later, having cared for more than 200 children in that time.

Debra, a former fashion buyer turned nursery nurse, and her partner of 30 years, David, opened their home and became foster carers shortly after the birth of their second child.

Their three daughters and son, aged five to 19 years, have been raised as part of a large, lively foster family that currently includes two boys and a girl aged between five and 11 years.

“Fostering suits me and my family down to the ground”, Debra explains. “My children don’t know any different and we’ve had so many positive experiences and memories from each and every foster sibling that has come into our home.”

Over the years Debra has been a short-term, long-term and out-of-hours foster carer. Although not a Hackney resident, she has managed to incorporate a relatively short commute into her busy family schedule to attend the ongoing programme of training courses and meetings in the borough.

The training and the support provided by Hackney’s fostering team and other foster carers helps her to tackle the challenges of the role and are a big part of the many rewards.

“Being a foster carer is like being part of one big extended family”, she says. “Communication and sharing are vital, not only with the children in your care but with the people who act as a wonderful support network.”

“Anyone thinking of becoming a foster carer should research every aspect of the role and see how much training and advice you can tap into. And speak to other carers and use them as mentors, there is no substitution than to listen to someone who has had years of experience.”