Turning little people into big people – the foster care experiences of a Harrogate man

Foster care fortnight runs from 14 to 27 May. It aims raise awareness of fostering and that in North Yorkshire an additional 60 foster parents are needed.

We spoke to Dave, aged 57 from Harrogate who has been fostering for the last 5 years and in that time helped 6 children between the ages of 5 and 16.

He currently has a 12 year old boy who has lived with him for 3 years, a 13 year boy who visits him for 1 weekend a month for respite care and his own own son, aged 16 who he has brought up as a single parent since the age of 3.

Dave used to be a manager and co-owner of the Jimmy’s Club in Harrogate and then managed Cardinal Sins, Applause and Spearmint Rhino.

Dave said:

I looked at how well things had gone with me bringing up my own son and decided I wanted to put something back and foster. There can be a lot of stigma around a man fostering children and it is true that you do need to be careful. Perhaps many potential fosters believe they don’t have an ideal home for foster, but that is not what it’s about.

Being male perhaps adds some complications, I would only foster boys. Social services though, do work with you so the foster parent is the best fit for the individual child.

To start with there was a CRB – security check, before sitting in front of an interview panels, followed by health checks and further interviews.

You don’t just get thrown in at the deep end, you receive training at the start and then updates as you progress. There’s also support available 24hours a day.

Talking about the children that come into fostering, recent statistics showing that a child goes into foster care every 22 minutes in the UK.

Dave added:

It can be a child from a Mum that has gone into hospital and who just doesn’t have any support.

It can also be children that have come from far difficult situations with behavioural problems.

They can have been in a bad situation, for a number of years, at key, formative stages of their lives, and due to that developed behaviour that they think is the norm but is not acceptable to most people.

It can be a long and at times painful processes, turning young people into adults with a whole view on life and society.

The real satisfaction comes from them doing  just the normal things though.

Having your own family support is vital but social services are also there to help. There are always people to talk to for support and to ask advice from.

You need to be resilient though, being able to cope with lapses in behaviour and at times parents who want to see the children.

In the current financial climate, household budgets can be tight anyway. Having extra mouths to feed could possibly squeeze those budgets even tighter.

Dave added:

Don’t do fostering thinking you will make a lot of money from it because that’s simply won’t happen. The remuneration allowance  helps cover the costs though.

Often, given the situation that some of the children have come from, they don’t come with a right lot and can go through clothes quickly as they are not used to looking after their things.

Fostering maybe for you if you want to give something back.

For me it is all about watching little people turning into big people and being a part of that.

To support foster carers the County Council offers ongoing help, advice and training, as well as an allowance ranging from £134.51 to £313.75 a week to cover the cost of looking after a child.

People who are interested in becoming a foster carer can find out about the next information evening near them by calling Fostering North Yorkshire on 0800 054 6989.

For more information about being a foster carer go to www.northyorks.gov.uk/fostering

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