The first foster carers to receive £500 golden hellos have spoken of their pride at joining the ranks of those offering support to children who are often the most in need.
The incentive was launched by Fostering North Yorkshire, North Yorkshire Council’s not-for-profit fostering service, to help bring in new foster carers as there is a national shortage, but a higher demand with more children coming into care.
The team at Fostering North Yorkshire is keen to let people know about the range of opportunities and financial support available to provide quality care for children and young people across the county.
Julie Brown, 60, from Filey, is one of the first newly approved carers to receive her £500 golden hello. Julie has worked with children with additional needs all her life. She has just taken early retirement and is signed up to offer sleepovers or short breaks for disabled children, or those with additional needs when their parents need some time to themselves.
Mrs Brown said: “I love working with children and have got to the stage where full-time work is too much for me. Offering sleepovers or short breaks to children is a great fit for my life right now. I’ll be doing two to three nights a week, or a longer stay with some advance notice.
“Overall, there will be around four children I take in on a regular basis. I didn’t know I was actually getting the £500 golden hello – any foster carer will tell you that they don’t do this for the money. It is a nice surprise, though, and will definitely help out.”
She added: “If anyone is thinking about fostering, then now is the time to do it. There are opportunities to do this as a career, or you can offer sleepovers if you are already working full-time.”
Settle resident Emma Hipkiss has also just become a newly approved foster carer. The 42-year-old’s career involves working with families going through the fostering or adoption process, which has given her a great insight into the difficulties and challenges people face.
Miss Hipkiss said: “Due to my work, I’ve got a greater sense of empathy and understanding of what families go through when they have to put a child up for fostering or adoption. That’s why I want to foster. Our son, who now lives away from home, is very supportive and tells us we should have done this years ago. We didn’t know we were getting the £500 golden hello – it’s a nice surprise.”
Miss Hipkiss and her partner are starting off with sleepovers and emergency care so that it fits around their working lives.
She added: “We do plan on fostering longer term in the future, though. We are approaching fostering by knowing that we are the bridge between the child/young person and their next step. We are fully aware there will be challenges, but we’ve had challenges in our own lives which have given us the tools needed to tackle whatever we face. We will take things step by step and focus on helping a young person feel safe, cared for and happy.”
Short breaks and sleepovers are perfect opportunities for foster carers who have a full-time job. They are pre-planned and support families to have a rest or they can give the adults a bit of time to themselves. There are other opportunities, such as emergency foster care, care for asylum seekers, short-term foster care or long-term care. Fostering North Yorkshire normally has children aged 10 and up in need of foster carers, including siblings who they do not want to split up. The team works with the foster carers to find what is best for them and their commitments.
The only thing that all foster carers have in common is a love of children and a desire to make a difference. People interested in fostering can visit www.northyorks.gov.uk/fostering to find out more. The £500 golden hello is being offered to newly approved carers until December 31.