Residents across the county are being urged to consider becoming foster carers during Foster Care Fortnight.
During the annual campaign, which this year runs from May 10 to 23, the county council is highlighting the need to find more people who can provide local children and young people with a home at a time of need.
East Sussex foster carers have given almost three thousand years of care to children, but with more children for waiting for placements the council is using Foster Care Fortnight to encourage more people to make a difference to children’s lives by becoming foster carers or supported lodgings providers.
Linda from Bexhill has been fostering for 30 years and has cared for over 140 children from East Sussex during that time.
She began fostering after her divorce and said: “I could have been quite lonely, but the children kept the house busy and full of laughter.
“They have given me much more than I have given them. I love hearing them laughing and joking.”
Linda has formed close bonds with the children she has looked after, and many still visit or ring her for advice.
Linda continued: “Fostering is not without its challenges but it’s fantastic to be able to give these young people a chance of family life, and to help them fulfil their potential. By caring, you really can make a difference.”
David has been with the same foster family for 15 years and is now studying physics at university.
He said: “Growing up with the foster family and having an education alongside brothers and sisters made me feel like one of them. Hilary, my carer, has always wanted me to strive from a young age and I wouldn’t be in the position I am now if it wasn’t for her.”
David continued: “If it wasn’t for the fostering system, I would not have been given the opportunities I have. Fostering has helped me to become better than I would have been.
“I am very appreciative of all Hilary has done for me, taking time out of her life to help support mine. A quote I’ve always remembered is “The thing about being a parent is for your kids to have a better life than yours” and in no way is this truer than caring for a child.”
The council is keen that people should not rule themselves out or let ‘myths’ stop them from making an enquiry.
There are many different types of fostering including short-term, long-term, emergency and respite fostering for a set number of nights either as a one off or on a regular basis.
The council is particularly keen to hear from people who might be able to offer placements for groups of brothers and sisters, teenagers and young people moving onto independence, children with disabilities or a parent and their young child.
Carers come from all walks of life. The fostering service welcomes applicants of any ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, and relationship status.
All carers are fully supported by the Children’s Services team, with dedicated social workers, a 24-hour helpline, extensive local training, educational and therapeutic support for children and a network of support from experienced carers.
Anyone interested in finding out more about offering support to a young person by becoming a foster carer or a supported lodgings provider can visit www.eastsussex.gov.uk/childrenandfamilies or call 01323 464129 or 01424 726155, respectively.
More information about Foster Care Fortnight can be found at https://thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/fcf21. This year’s campaign highlights the fantastic work of foster carers and supported lodgings providers and aims to raise awareness of the transformational power of fostering through the theme #whywecare.