Could you change a child's life, like foster mum Carole?

For local mum Carole Hill, it’s hard to remember a time without foster children – or imagine life without fostering.

“I have looked after many children over the years, older children and teenagers”, she says. “The shortest placement was one night and the longest was more than 10 years!

“For some of these children, nobody has ever tried. You can’t change their past but you might be able to change their future. We have some great days and some that are not so great – but we always end up laughing!”

Carole, who currently cares for a teenage boy and an older teenage girl, has clocked up 20 years’ experience as a foster carer alongside her husband Michael, looking after vulnerable children of all ages and backgrounds. The couple also have a daughter, Jordan, who is now 23.

The Carterton resident is one of more than 300 Oxfordshire foster carers who all play a vital role caring for children who have often lived through traumatic experiences, and giving them the stability and confidence to thrive.

“I can’t think of anything more rewarding than knowing you have made a difference to a child’s life, and fostering provides that opportunity”, says Carole.

Fostering older children

There’s always a need for more people to come forward, and during Foster Care Fortnight (14 – 27 May) the council would particularly like to hear from anyone considering fostering older children and teenagers – who make up more than half of all children in care in Oxfordshire.

The council also needs carers who can foster siblings and people with the skills to support disabled children or who could give a child a place to call home long-term.

Cabinet Member for Children and Family Services Steve Harrod said: “Foster carers come from all walks of life but what they all have in common is a desire to help vulnerable children reach their full potential by providing them with the stability and security they need.

“It’s a very challenging role but it comes with huge rewards, and I would urge anyone interested in finding out more to get in touch with us.”

Information meeting

To find out more come to our information meeting:

  • Wednesday May 23 @ 6.30-8pm:

Nash Court, 4440 John Smith Drive, Oxford Business Park, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2RU.

Contact Oxfordshire County Council Fostering on 0800 783 5724

or visit www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/fostering

Some fostering facts:

You don’t need a specific qualification, once approved carers are supported to achieve the Children’s Workforce Development Council’s training. There are lots of other opportunities for training and learning.

There is no age limit to foster - to foster you must be over 18, we have foster carers who are still fostering in their 70's

Single? Not a problem - children need stable loving homes by single parents and couples, whatever their gender or sexual orientation

Disabilities or not, you can still foster - health problems and disabilities will not stop you from fostering, provided you can care for the children

No ethnic matching - there are children from many different backgrounds needing to be fostered, what is important is that you can meet the needs of the child

What help will you get? - the council offers generous allowances and all the specialist training and support you need.