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Cornwall foster couple wants others to start fostering

Foster carer, Julie, has dedicated her career to providing a loving and safe home for babies, children, young people and young parents in the care system for over twenty-five years. In 2004, Julie started her foster care journey with us at Five Rivers alongside her husband Kelvin who has recently completed his training as a full-time carer. Together, both Julie and Kelvin provide full-time care for those in need across the area.

The couple have six biological children between the ages of 23 and 33 and specialise in parent and child placements, a specialist type of fostering where a young parent or parents and their child stays with foster carers when they’re in need of extra help and support. The foster carer’s primary role during these placements, which typically last 12 weeks, is to assess the parent’s parenting skills.

Speaking about parent and child placements, Kelvin said: “As foster carers, our focus is on the child, and we hope that at the end of each placement the best outcome is reached for that child. It’s not always easy, and the parents’ behaviour can sometimes be challenging, but the rewards easily outweigh the challenges.

As well as assessing, we are there to encourage the learning and development of both the parents and the children. We write daily reports, which the parents can read at any time and sometimes serve as the best form of feedback. We don’t force the parents to do anything, but we will support them if they choose to attend parenting classes, for example, and we have accompanied parents to various support groups. Julie and I do all we can to ensure that everyone we care for feels supported and safe and we ultimately want the right outcome for every person we care for.”

Alongside being full-time carers, the couple offer respite care, also known as short term care, for children and young people to offer their regular carers a break or during times when an emergency placement is needed. Kelvin said: “Providing respite care for people in our area can be anything from having a foster child stay for the weekend or giving a teenager a lift to football training. We’re there for foster carers in the community and we’re all doing our bit to support young people.”

Both Julie and Kelvin attend regular training programmes and classes held by Five Rivers to further develop and enhance their ability to support young people. Speaking about this, Kelvin said: “The courses are varied, from First Aid to therapeutic skills, which I’ve greatly enjoyed.  They are often thought-provoking and ask you to consider your own feelings and experiences to help you better empathise with those people in your home.”

Commenting on Julie and Kelvin’s foster journey, Melinda Kirsopp, Julie and Kelvin’s senior supervising social workers, said: “Julie is a highly experienced foster carer having previously fostered with a Local Authority since 1993 and then joining Five Rivers in 2004. Since that time Julie has provided Parent and Child placements to over 25-30 families. Julie has clearly developed her expertise in the P and C field and therefore is not easily daunted about the more complex families requiring assessment.

“Since Julie and Kelvin became a couple they were approved to foster together. Kelvin has certainly embraced his role as foster carer and Parent and Child assessment placement provider. He has also developed his skills and expertise providing support to very young children placed on the autistic spectrum and has certainly found his ‘niche’ in this area.

“I have had the pleasure of supervising Julie and Kelvin for almost ten years and have been, over this period of time, in awe of their achievements and commitment to providing support, guidance and assessment for many, many parents and their children. Their passion for the work they do shines out and having the opportunity to work alongside them gives me a huge sense of pride!

If you would like to know more about how you can help a child and mother in need, or the personal and career benefits of fostering, or would just like an informal chat with our team you can reach us on 0345 266 0272 or carer.enquiries@five-rivers.org

 

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