A couple from Larne have described the ‘rewarding experience’ of fostering two young boys as the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service launches new campaign to encourage more people to become foster carers through the Health and Social Care Trusts. The couple, Johnjoe and Gareth, decided to explore the option of fostering with the Northern Trust almost three years ago and have since gone on to provide a loving and stable home for their two foster children.
Johnjoe said: “It took several months to become foster carers, from our very first meeting with the Social Worker to getting approval from the foster panel. The team at the Northern Health and Social Care Trust have been amazing and so supportive. They organised training, gave us lots of information, arranged visits, medicals and everything else we needed to become foster carers. Our Social Worker arranges visits with the children’s birth family to help them keep in touch. The most rewarding part of fostering for us has been seeing the boys grow in confidence, settle in at home, get along like brothers and make new friends.”
Picture insert: Johnjoe and Gareth from Larne, who have been fostering for almost a year
Gareth said: “Becoming Foster Carers has made such a difference to our lives; our world revolves around the children now. This summer, we enjoyed our first holiday away together in Spain. We arranged their passports and had the best fun at the beach, water parks and theme parks. Now, it’s time to get back to porridge, and the kids are getting ready to go back to school.”
The Regional Adoption and Fostering Service is currently seeking to recruit foster carers to meet the growing demand of children and young people living in care. Currently there are more than 3,000 children and young people in foster care in Northern Ireland.
Una Carragher, Principal Social Worker, Regional Adoption and Fostering Service said: “There are many myths about who can and cannot foster. We welcome enquiries regardless of race, religion, language, culture, gender, disability, age and sexual orientation. Like Johnjoe and Gareth, we also welcome applications from same sex couples and anyone from the LGBTQ community.”
“We are looking for people who can open up their hearts and homes to provide care for children and young people. Foster carers must be willing to offer a safe and secure home where children and young people feel valued, respected and cared for.”
If you have ever considered fostering, or would like further information on how to become a foster carer, then please contact the Regional Adoption and Fostering Service on 0800 0720 137 or click here for more information.