Open your home and your heart – as a foster carer
Wakefield Council is looking for 'empty-nesters' who can provide a loving home for older children and teenagers.
This month the fostering service is focusing on recruiting parents whose own children have left home and are ready for a new challenge.
Cllr Margaret Isherwood, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: "If you're an empty nester with grown children who've left home or gone to university, it could be a good time to join our team of foster carers. We value your skills and experience and will give the help and support you need to nurture a vulnerable young person.
"Recruiting additional carers is an ongoing process as current foster carers retire or circumstances change. Carers need energy, enthusiasm and to be committed to providing a temporary home for a child or young person in need."
Chris and Sue Clarke, pictured and both in their 60s, decided to consider fostering after their own family had grown up.
Chris had recently retired and was looking for a new direction and they both missed having young people around as their home felt quiet.
The couple contacted the Council and were accepted on a training course. Eighteen months ago they were approved as foster carers and now look after a two brothers.
Sue explained: "Fostering is incredibly rewarding. If you are empty nesters like us, it can be incredibly satisfying to help others and brighten up a young person's life.
"It does come with challenges but we get so much out of it from seeing the children learn and grow in confidence."
Chris enjoys helping the children with reading as well as using his skills as an engineer to support school projects such as model-making.
He said: "It is enjoyable, the children are fun. We've benefitted too, from getting to know people in our community through school and activities."
The couple meet up regularly with other foster carers and have their own support worker.
Chris said: "If we have any issues our support worker is excellent in offering advice and using his experience to suggest trying different things.
"Inevitably, we've faced challenges but the training we've received and knowing that we can readily access back up, gives us confidence as we fairly new to fostering."
Sue added: "We'd encourage anyone who really wants to help a young person to think about fostering and the difference you can make to their life."
Foster carers receive training, a financial allowance and support from a dedicated support worker. Additionally, out of hours support, fast tracked access to children's health and wellbeing support teams and access to monthly informal foster carer groups are provided.
Carers need to be over 21 and have a spare room. No special qualifications are needed.
People can apply regardless of marital status, sexuality, religious or cultural background. They don't need to be a homeowner or employed and can be with or without children.
For more information visit: www.wakefield.gov.uk/fostering or call 0800 197 0320.