Belfast Telegraph

Supportive, loving and able to provide safety and security?

You might be ready to become a foster carer.

Jude Malone, together with her husband Brian, has been a Health and Social Care (HSC) foster carer for a year and a half. Balancing the challenges of parenting two young girls alongside running her photography and design business means that Jude fully appreciates the support offered to her by her local HSC trust.

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“We felt that as a couple we would be strong enough to consider fostering. We had considered different options for growing our family but it was when we attended an event called ‘Til I Grow Up’ run by our local HSC trust that it really brought the children to life for us.

Fostering can be challenging. As a foster carer you just have to think a little bit more about the ‘back story’ of a child. What a child has experienced outside of your care helps you to understand why certain things manifest themselves in a certain way.

On the other hand, fostering rewards us every single day. Brian and I have had the opportunity to see the children grow and progress every day, every week, every month. It just really warms your heart when people say to you ‘look how happy and confident they are’ and you feel proud that you have had some input into the smiles on their faces and the experiences they’re having.

Our local HSC Fostering Service has been very supportive of us in our role – there are support groups, we can talk to other foster carers and there is fantastic training. You always know that there is a social worker available to answer any questions at all or just for advice.

We are working as part of a team. There are many different adults in one child’s life but all of those people have their place in helping to care for the child. Everyone is working together positively for the benefit of the child and helping the child to progress.

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My advice to anyone who has ever considered fostering is to get as much information as possible, make sure you get your questions answered - talk to people, go to the information events the HSC trusts run, seek out guidance, talk to other foster carers, soak up as much information as you can.”

Supportive? Loving? Able to provide safety and security?

There is an ongoing shortage of foster carers and more Health and Social Care (HSC) foster carers are needed to provide safe, stable and nurturing homes for vulnerable children and young people on both a long term or short term basis.

HSC foster carers, once approved, receive financial allowances, ongoing training and 24 hour social work support.

If you are resilient, flexible and have the energy and time to care for the demands of a child, then you could help make a real difference to a young person’s life by becoming a valued HSC foster carer.

Find out more about the realities of becoming a foster carer.

Visit www.adoptionandfostering.hscni.net or call 0800 0720 137.

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