Kirklees Council is urging people ‘not to count themselves out’ of becoming foster carers, with demand for adults to look after children in care increasing.
The local authority currently has more than 400 children in its care, and has started a campaign aimed at debunking some of the myths around fostering that may discourage potential carers from expressing an interest.
Supporting the campaign are local couple Stephen and Elizabeth Barnard. who thought they were too old to qualify as carers but have since taken on responsibility for five children who have been placed with them for varying lengths of time. 53 year-old Stephen has now given up his job to dedicate himself to fostering full time and the couple describe the transition as “life-changing.”
The couple first considered registering as carers after their two grown-up sons, John and Richard, left home, but were concerned that as they entered their 50s they would be too old to be eligible.
However, after embarking on a training course and contacting Kirklees Council they received a positive response and were told that their personal circumstances worked in their favour.
Elizabeth said: “We’ve had our ups and downs with fostering but given the chance we would do it all again. It has been a privilege to see their children in our care flourish and we know we have given them a better chance in life than they would have had without us.
“Age is not a barrier to fostering - and remember that with age comes wisdom - we’ve seen it all before!”
Applicants interested in fostering will be considered irrespective of age, ethnicity, relgion, gender, sexual orientation or disability. Couples without children and single people are also eligible to apply.
Paul Johnson of Kirklees Council said: “There’s no such thing as a typical foster carer and they come from all age groups and walks of life. However, there are many people out there who’d make excellent foster carers but count themselves out simply because they think they won’t be eligible. In fact, many are surprised to find, like Stephen and Elizabeth, that they are just what we are looking for.
“We’re currently looking for long-term foster families for 68 children but we urgently need people who can provide stable homes on a long and short-term basis, including older children and sibling groups.
“Our friendly team can talk through the options available and what kind of fostering best suits you and your circumstances.”
An informal drop-in session will be held at Huddersfield Town Hall next Wednesday, January from 3 - 6.30pm for anyone interested in finding out more about fostering. Or you can visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/fostering