For one Matlock couple, age is no barrier when it comes to providing a safe, loving and happy home for a child in desperate need.
Margaret Collick and her husband Tom began fostering in 2004 , initially offering respite care once a month to children with additional needs.
But nearly one decade later, the couple says that fostering has “enriched their lives beyond belief” and would urge others to follow in their footsteps – whatever their age.
Margaret, 62, said: “When I first mentioned the subject of becoming a foster carer, Tom was concerned that we were too old to start fostering.
“When we started, though, it soon became clear that age would not be an issue at all.”
After easing themselves into the world of fostering, the pair gradually increased the amount of care they offered until five years ago when they became full-time foster parents to 15-year-old Luke.
“We started looking after Luke when he was 8-years-old for a few days a month while he was waiting for a permanent foster family,” said Margaret.
“We loved having him and decided that we wanted to become his full time foster family. That was five years ago and we have never looked back.”
Currently, there are just under 700 children in care across the county – all in need of a place to call home.
Owing to this, Derbyshire County Council are appealing to people across the county to put themselves forward as foster parents.
The authority offers a range of benefits to foster parents as well as support, training and “competitive” financial allowances.
“I would urge anybody with even the remotest inkling that they wanted to become foster parents to find out more,” said Margaret.
“There will be challenges along the way of course – it can be a bit of an emotional roller coaster – but for us it has been a truly enriching experience. It is wonderful to be able to make a difference to a child, to see them develop and grow.”
For more information about becoming a foster parent, call Derbyshire County Council free on 0800 083 7744 or visit the website www.derbyshire.gov.uk/adoptionandfostering.
GREAT REASON TO BE A FOSTER CARER
- Full training is given before becoming a foster carer, including a three-day ‘Skills to Foster’ course
- On-going training and equipment to help you, including a grant towards IT equipment and internet access.
- Training courses offered, including first aid, forming child attachments, computer courses and NVQ3
- Maximum annual fees, allowances and bonuses ranging from £8,400 to over £36,000.
- Your own social worker to work alongside you and provide support
- Free access to leisure and swimming facilities for your family.
- A fostering mentor support scheme where experienced foster carers are on hand to offer help and advice in your first six months of fostering and beyond.
- Membership of the Workforce Extra discount shopping scheme
- Recognition through a long-service scheme.
- Opportunities to socialise with other foster carers at special events such as the Big Book Bash – a literature festival and awards ceremony for children in care and the families they live with.