A FOSTER family from Southport are lamenting a critical shortage of foster carers in the North West after it was revealed over there are 5,250 children in need of homes.
Louise and Mark Fisher are now campaigning to reduce the severe shortage of foster carers in the region.
The couple have been carers with independent foster care agency Fostering Solutions since 2014, and currently have a young mother and her baby in their care.
They want to share their story to encourage more people in the local area to consider becoming foster carers.
Louise, 44, has a background in teaching in the Liverpool area, and Mark’s mum used to be a foster carer when he was younger. This gave Louise and Mark, 49, an insight into the difference they could make to young lives.
Louise said; “I used to teach underprivileged girls at a school in Liverpool. As the final school bell went I would often wonder about the challenges the girls might face at home.
“I decided I wanted to help and fostering just seemed the right thing for us to do.
“I knew being a mum myself I could pass on my parenting skills to support someone to become a good parent, and so we decided to provide care for young parents and their babies. Parent and child fostering is completely different to any other type of foster care as you are there to teach a parent how to care for their own baby.
“The young mum we have with us at the moment was just 16 when she had her baby. She is just a child herself and wasn’t used to staying in, putting the baby first, or saving money to buy a microwave instead of spending it on herself. These are all things she’s had to learn to do.
“She’s such a lovely mummy and her true motherly instinct is really shining through. The run up to Christmas was extra special; we went out shopping and bought presents for my children and her baby.
“She was so excited, not just for herself but for her baby’s first Christmas too. One night we had to visit the on-call doctor as her baby had a virus, and whilst we were sat in the waiting room she turned to me and said ‘Thank you for being here for me, my life would have been so different if you’d fostered me when I was 12’. It is little moments like that when you realise why you foster in the first place. It’s just so rewarding.
“To anyone thinking of fostering, I would say go for it. Every small step forward you take with the young person in your care is so rewarding. It’s in these moments that you just know you’ve done the right thing.”
The North West has a critical shortage of foster carers, with over 5,250 children in local authority care in need of a safe and stable home.
Pam Larsen, Regional Director for Fostering Solutions, said; “We know that 1 child is taken into foster care every 17 minutes in the UK and you can help to make a big difference to a child’s life by becoming a foster carer.
“We know that becoming a foster carer is a big step, so we support our carers both practically and emotionally, whilst they become carers and throughout their fostering lives. Fostering Solutions is there for our carers 24 hours a day, offering foster carer buddies who are experienced carers, therapists and dedicated social workers. We also provide nationally recognised training and qualifications, as part of our learning and development programme – all of which allows our carers to become experts in the field. It’s hugely rewarding.”
If you think you can help to urgently find foster homes for children in the North West please register for Fostering Solutions’ free fostering information event by visiting www.fosteringsolutions.com/liverpool.