More families should pass the fostering test

Foster Carers Betty and David Brothers at their home in Greenhill, Sheffield, look at photo albums of children they have cared for in the past
Foster Carers Betty and David Brothers at their home in Greenhill, Sheffield, look at photo albums of children they have cared for in the past

A FOSTERING family are urging more people to transform youngsters’ lives as Sheffield bucks the trend for carers signing up. While hundreds of foster carers are desperately needed across the region there has been an increase in the number – from 184 to 250 – of fostering households with Sheffield Council in the last three years.

Betty Brothers, husband David and daughter Alice, aged 14, have seen dozens of youngsters pass through their Greenhill home in the decade they’ve fostered.

Despite the many challenges it is an experience the family – who offer sibling places, help train others and promote fostering – have found incredibly rewarding.

Betty, 58, said: “We’ve had children come to us who hardly spoke a word, one three-year-old had been ignored for that long he didn’t know how to communicate.

“We’d sing nursery rhymes to him and one day he was in the kitchen when I was washing up and he burst into Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

“He came back to see us and is a confident boy. You make a difference to their lives, even if it’s in a little way. I only wish I’d done it earlier.”

Parental addiction problems and neglect is common said Betty. And children’s behaviour can be difficult as a result.

She added: “I need to say that it can be very hard work and very frustrating but at the end of the day you see them move on to a stable place. For us fostering is a way of life.”

Charity Fostering Network has released figures showing the number of youngsters living with foster families in England has risen by 16 per cent, and continues to climb.

Despite more carers signing up in Sheffield the amount of children in foster care, or being otherwise looked after, has increased.

Figures fluctuate daily but the number of city children needing foster homes stood at 415 on November 30.

And the council says more help is urgently required.

Coun Jackie Drayton, cabinet member for children, young people and families, added: “We haven’t seen year on year rises in the number of children in our care that some authorities have but we will never be complacent.

“There is a real need for more, good foster carers, whatever their background, in Sheffield, and I cannot urge people strongly enough to come forward and consider fostering.

“Giving these children the stable and loving environment they need could be the most challenging, but also the most rewarding thing you will ever do.”

n Call the fostering team on 0114 273 507, visit www.sheffield.gov.uk or email fostering@sheffield.gov.uk.