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A grandmother, grows her family through fostering

A grandmother living in the North talks about how she can continue the joys of parenting through fostering

Debbie has been a primary foster carer since 2007 together with her partner Kenny providing long-term placements for vulnerable children.

Since July 2016 the couple, who have five grown-up children of their own, have looked after their fourth foster child, 8-year-old Oliver*. When he first joined the family last summer, Oliver had trouble sleeping properly and felt too scared to close his bedroom door at night, but with support from Debbie and Kenny he now finally feels safe.

Oliver* has joined the local Scout group, has regular swimming lessons and together the family have enjoyed trips abroad to Turkey and go on regular caravanning holidays.

Debbie, who works with children with special educational needs, said: “It’s all about being able to create an atmosphere where they feel safe, looked-after, and able to talk about their feelings. Getting your first hug from a foster child feels incredible; that’s when you know you’ve done your job.

“It’s the little things that make fostering so rewarding. When you see children smiling, laughing, and just being able to enjoy their childhood in the way they should, that’s what matters the most.”

Debbie fosters with Five Rivers Fostering, and receives regular visits from a dedicated social worker who visits the family home every four weeks and supports Debbie, Kenny, and Oliver*. Debbie has even started helping Five Rivers by becoming an ambassador, meeting with new and prospective carers and talking to them about what fostering entails and what to expect.

She continued: “It’s important to be open and honest and by talking to people who are considering becoming a foster carer, I’m helping make sure they enter the process armed with the right information.

“As a foster carer your life has to revolve around the children. They become your absolute priority, and that’s how it should be. It’s hard work – but it’s so, so worth it.”

Debbie remains in close contact with all the children she has fostered and is hoping Oliver will stay with them until he turns 18.

She adds: “When you look after a child, what you want more than anything is to see them do well and be happy. You believe in them, and want the best for them. When a child you’ve looked after turns 18 and is able to live an independent, happy life that’s when you really feel a sense of achievement. There’s nothing like it.”

People from all walks of life can become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age, including grandparents, single people, co-habiting couples, same sex couples and people living in rented accommodation are all eligible, they only requirement is a spare room for each foster child.

A career in foster care offers many benefits including competitive rates of pay and flexible working. For more information about fostering visit


*Please note, names have been changed to protect the identity of the foster child/ren

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