Ilse has been fostering for a decade and recommends it – as council searches for new foster carers

If you want to know what being a foster carer is like, ask Ilse – she’s been doing it for a decade!

May 13 to May 26 is Foster Care Fortnight – and Oxfordshire County Council is on the lookout for more people like Ilse who may be interested or know someone who is interested in becoming a foster carer. With ever more children coming in to care across the nation – including Oxfordshire – there’s always a need for new recruits.

In 2011 there were 425 children in care in the county – now there’s around 780.

“I thought you might not be able to foster if you are single, but you can! You must be open and be patient and fun – we have a lot of fun in our house” says Ilse from Oxford

Ilse’s own children are really involved and make sure children feel welcomed when they move in. She said: “Your children and your family have to completely involved, I think that’s the most important thing. The children are great role models, which I think is super important.

“Sometimes when children come in to foster care their self-esteem is at rock bottom and you can see it in the way they walk and move, and their faces are withdrawn. What you really want to do is scoop them up and just hug them but that is not necessarily what they want.

“The benefits are seeing them grow in to confident children, they will ask for things and they shine, they lift their chins up and become confident little people, those are the moments when you think ‘wow, we are doing a really good job’.

Ilse’s adopted daughter Shaniya loves to have foster children come to live with them. She said: “When foster children first arrive the way to make them feel welcome in to your home is to play games and if they are shy just make them laugh. It always works!”

Oxfordshire County Council is always on the lookout for more foster carers. The council provides different types of fostering that best suit the children and the carer. A generous allowance is offered alongside specialist training and support.

People who spread the word and persuade someone to contact the council’s foster care team could receive £250 once that person has been approved and a child has been placed.

Lucy Butler, the Director for Children’s Services at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re keen to hear from those who’d be interested. We are blessed with wonderful foster carers – but like all other parts of the country we’re very much on the lookout to recruit more. We’d love to hear from you.”

Facts about fostering

  • You don’t need a specific qualification, once approved, carers are supported to achieve the Children’s Workforce Development Council 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.

How to find out more

Find out more by coming along to an information meeting taking place on Wednesday 15 May from 6.30pm at Nash Court, 4440 John Smith Drive, Oxford Business Park, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2RU.

More information can be found on our website, by writing to fostering@oxfordshire.gov.uk or calling 0800 7835724.