MK Council is one of a number of local authorities in the UK suffering from a shortage of foster carers. Milton Keynes-based foster carer Vicki O’Dell, who has fostered more than 15 children in the last six and a half years, explains how she got into it and why she loves it…
I’ve been working with children since I was 17, which led into the Sure Start programme and running fun activities for vulnerable families.
At one of these events, I met a really inspirational woman. She was 65 and still fostering young children. 14 months after that meeting, I welcomed my first foster child into our home.
I offer foster care to children aged 0 to 2. We’ve had over 15 children at home with us over the past 6 and a half years alongside my own birth children who are now in their teens.
You need to expect the unexpected. The reality of fostering is that we get a referral and you never quite know everything about the child’s situation and there is always an element of learning as you go.
Another thing to consider is the birth family. You need to be respectful to them whilst appreciating how difficult it can be in their position.
I always try to make sure I meet the parents. Working well with them and listening to their views actually makes it easier, both for their family and the child involved. Seeing a child settle into their new home and
really smile – to see them relax into a routine and become part of your family – is wonderful.
Some children will be behind in their development and, as a foster carer, you’ll be involved in medical appointments and other important therapies.
Watching them take these steps and seeing this change is hugely rewarding. Fostering is the biggest commitment you will ever make.
It’s challenging at times and you need to have really supportive family and friends around you. I’m very lucky that I do, which enables me to continue doing what I love.
Why choose to foster?
•Fostering is a rewarding career
•You can make a huge difference to a child’s life
•You will earn a minimum of £322 a week for fostering a child aged 11 or over
If you are interested in fostering a child in Milton Keynes, call 01908 253206 or visit http://www.milton-keynes.gov.uk/fostering