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‘Fostering has worked for our family’ – foster carers share their story

Five Rivers foster carer Deborah is supporting our campaign to recruit more carers and families, nationwide.

Deborah says fostering has been one of the best things her family has ever done and is using her specialist skills as a nurse to give a vulnerable child a loving family environment.

Deborah and her husband Steve, are foster parents to eight-year-old Oliver* who they fostered on a long-term placement five years ago. Oliver, who has several complex health needs, including a heart defect, has joined the family alongside biological children Jack and Riley.

Being a specialist community nursery nurse who helps parents look after children with complex health needs, enabling them to stay in their own homes rather than go into hospital, meant when it came to fostering, taking on a child with a disability was an easy decision for Deborah.

“She said: “It was through my work that I first came across fostering as I was helping to look after a child who was fostered. I got chatting to his foster carers and then told my husband about it and he suggested it was something we could do ourselves. I’ve always loved working with children and felt that even after having two boys myself, we had more love to give and could help another child in need.”

The family chooses to undertake long-term placements meaning Oliver* will stay with the Parkes family for years to come. Deborah continues: “Our children were quite young when Oliver* first came to live with us and we felt long-term placements would be best suited to us and Five Rivers understood that. The kids, their grandparents, aunts and uncles all see Oliver* as one of the family, he’s no different in their eyes to my own boys– he is such a happy boy and is so loved.”

So complex are Oliver’s health needs that he has only recently learnt to walk and two years ago Deborah spent six months in hospital with him in a very critical condition. She continues: “Oliver’s* been very poorly at times and to see the happy, energetic boy he is today is so rewarding and now that he’s walking it’s the icing on the cake.

“Fostering has really worked for our family, it allows me to be at home with the children when they need me but also to continue nursing while they are at school. It has certainly enriched the lives of our two boys and we’re even talking about possibly fostering another child – we have a spare bedroom and it would be so lovely to be able to offer someone else in need the life Oliver* now has with us.”

Nicci Willock, director of fostering services at Five Rivers, said: “Deborah and her family are shining examples of a foster carers who have done an incredible amount to help looked after children across the South and East of England. Being a foster carer requires a great amount of patience, empathy and compassion and seeing Oliver* thriving today proves this family have all these qualities by the bucket load.

“Foster Care Fortnight is an important reminder that there is currently a huge shortage of foster carers across the UK. We are keen to hear from anyone interested in becoming a foster carer, including those considering it for the first time or experienced carers.”

Further information and enquiries please call 01858 412765.

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