One of Barking and Dagenham’s youngest foster carers urges you to do the same
PUBLISHED: 19:00 15 May 2018
Foster Care Fortnight got underway this week to raise the profile of fostering and show how it can transform a youngster’s life.
With more than 400 children in care in Barking and Dagenham, there is a need to attract new foster carers who can provide a stable background and give children and young people the chance to build a life.
Joely made a lifechanging decision back in 2015 to become one of the youngest foster carers in the borough and has never looked back.
Despite the 25-year-old having two children of her own she found the time to look after SIX foster children over the last three years and says the rewards are incredible.
Joely said: “Everyone says to me I am too young to be a foster carer, but I enquired and was told they need lots of young carers.
“It is more hard work than people think it is. They need young and energetic people to keep on their toes with the kids!
“I enjoy what I do and there is good support and great training, so I would encourage others to do the same.”
Once an assessment is completed, carers receive a competitive allowance of up to £454 per child each week depending on the age of the child.
Joely has certainly made sacrifices as she looks to help others, but the incentives for both herself and her family have been huge.
Despite studying to become a teacher and having children of her own at an early age, she decided that looking after a vulnerable child would be far more beneficial.
“I went to university and did a degree, but I had my children quite early,” she said.
“I was training to be a teacher, but I wanted to spend more time with my son and didn’t want to leave him all day every day.
“When he was really little I used to work in children’s centres and nurseries and kept seeing the banners everywhere saying, ‘could you be a foster carer.’
“It made me think ‘why couldn’t I look after a child in our own home’ instead of going to work and doing it.
“I applied at the end of 2014 and by October 2015 it went to panel and I got my first foster child within 14 days. It was a long time coming but as soon as we went to panel that was it.”
“I am now on the sixth child that has been placed with my family. My area and my degree are early years and that is my comfort zone. My kids love having the babies around and they always bond with them.
“It helps my young kids to become caring and have empathy which they can build upon and that can only be a good thing.
“You see the progress from when they come to you and then when they leave and just think ‘wow’ – you cannot believe how much they have changed. I have worked with children with disabilities and picked them up from the neonatal unit when they were tiny, and you see what we have done for them.
“I am still in touch with some of the children who have moved on and receive photos and birthday cards which is lovely.”
Joely is urging anyone considering following in her footsteps to do so andhas credit the support from the council’s fostering service.
She said: “We have got a supporting social worker and we get on really well. I had a bit of a family emergency last year when my mum was taken really ill.
“I called the fostering team and was crying down the phone. Within 20 minutes there was another carer at my door that the social worker had arranged and allowed us to deal with our emergency and keep the kids happy.
“When I have really needed the help, they have been there, and they feel like a friend.”
Foster Care Fortnight 2018 runs until May 27.
For more information visit lbbd.gov.uk/fostering or call 020 8227 5988.