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Call For Foster Carers in North Yorkshire


6:00am 12th May 2013

North Yorkshire County Council is getting ready for a foster care campaign starting tomorrow to find more families willing to take on children who come into the care system.

Although the local authority has an impressive record of placing children and young people in care with families, there is an urgent need for more families to come forward, particularly families willing to take on siblings and teenagers and those with special needs, they say.

Foster caring is a challenging yet immensely rewarding experience, and carers often describe it as the best thing they’ve ever done.  In North Yorkshire foster carers come from a wide range of backgrounds and family make-up; what they share is their desire to provide a stable and welcoming home for some of the county’s most vulnerable children

The lack of foster carers can lead to children being placed with families outside the county, sometimes located many miles from family and friends. This is both costly to the taxpayer and the upheaval can be very disruptive and upsetting for children, say the council's Children's Services. 

Recently the county council celebrated the long service of two foster families, both of whom have fostered children for over 40 years.

Chris Stark, 76, a retired Methodist minister, fostered children with his wife Katie in Summerbridge for 44 years.  The couple became the mainstay of local fostering groups and were prepared to foster children with severe disabilities.  They went on to adopt a child who was born without limbs and is now living independently as an adult.  They also fostered a child with learning disabilities, Emma, who is now 31 and still lives in the family home with Chris, although Katie died last year after a two-year struggle against cancer. 

Chris, who has now retired as a foster carer said: “We saw our task as caring on behalf of parents and it was always rewarding.  We were always ready to share our experiences with others who wanted to become foster carers, because although challenging it has always been a privilege to do this work.”

Janice and Peter Disley, both 70, have two sons and have fostered for 40 years.  They now live in Scarborough but formerly lived in Bolton and fostered over 150 children for Bolton Town Council.  They moved to Scarborough in 2005, having taken holidays there with children for over 30 years and they continue to work as foster carers for the county council.  Much of their work has involved fostering babies who they help to move on to adoption or rehabilitation with their birth family.  At one point they were specialist carers for babies with complex health needs. 

Janice, who has trained new foster carers, said: “It’s all about team work, working with parents and working with other professionals to secure the best outcome for the child.  We feel very lucky to be able to do this work.  Helping these children, many of whom have suffered abuse, to have another chance of a good start in life, is the most satisfying work you can imagine”

About 360 children are in foster homes in North Yorkshire but we need another 50 carers to meet demand, particularly carers willing to give children a placement into adulthood, say North Yorkshire County Council's Children's Services.. 

They add that North Yorkshire has twice the national average of care leavers going on to university and by the end of the year, up to 75 per cent of our 19-year-old care leavers are expected to be engaged in education, training or employment.

Pete Dwyer, North Yorkshire’s Corporate Director for Children’s Services said: “Foster carers perform vital work in turning lives around for children and young people in our care system.  We do not underestimate the challenges of this work but we know that the rewards are very great indeed.  Long-term carers like Chris Stark and Janice and Peter Disley, have performed  crucial work in their support of other foster families and in the warm and welcoming home and essential support they have provided for children in need. We are very grateful for their total commitment.”

Foster Care Fortnight, the national fostering campaign begins on Monday 13th May to 26th May. 

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