Thame couple become foster care ambassadors

A couple from Thame, recently honoured for their fostering work, have been chosen as this year’s regional ambassadors for Foster Care Fortnight, 10 - 23 May.

Louise and Colin Day have been foster carers for two years. Last year, Louise received Oxfordshire County Council’s foster carer of the year award, in recognition for her and husband’s commitment to caring for children.

They were recognised for transforming the confidence of the first child they cared for; a shy young boy who was partially sighted and non-verbal. Louise and Colin patiently coaxed out his personality and grew his confidence. They took him on exciting adventures, including holidays to Spain and Dartmouth. He thrived in a range of activities, such touch-sensory classes and singing groups. And benefited from having a playmate, the family’s daughter Ava.

And once the child became the proud owner of the coolest pair of glasses and was able to see the world clearly, the nervousness fell away, replaced by enthusiasm and energy; enjoying every moment of life to the full.

Louise said: “The joy of watching a foster child grow in confidence is almost indescribable. He was my first son by heart, not birth. But the bond is just as strong.

“You yearn for them to succeed. You believe in the young person in your care. You know they’re capable. Through patience and belief, you gradually get the incredible reward of witnessing their transformation.

“For anyone who is in two minds if foster caring is for them, please give it a go. I’m sure, like us, you’ll never look back.”

Louise’s own description was mirrored by their social worker who commented: “Louise and Colin are so accommodating. They have not only made a huge difference right now but have positively influenced the child’s future too. They have an amazing future ahead of them as foster carers."

That “first son by heart” has now been adopted and is well placed for a happy and fulfilling future, thanks to the best start in life made possible by Louise and Colin.

The theme of Foster Care Fortnight is ‘why we care’. The Thame couple encapsulate this perfectly.

Foster Care Fortnight, 10 - 23 May, is the UK’s biggest foster care awareness raising campaign, delivered by leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network.

Thousands of new foster families are needed every year to care for children, with the greatest need being for foster carers for teenagers, sibling groups, children with disabilities, and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.

Lara Patel, Oxfordshire County Council’s Deputy Director for Children Services, said: “This year’s Foster Care Fortnight is an opportunity to recognise the commitment, passion and dedication foster carers have shown in what has been a very challenging time during the last year. It also provides the opportunity to encourage others to foster. We urgently need to recruit more foster carers in Oxfordshire.

“It is our aim to place the children we care for locally with Oxfordshire County Council foster carers, like Louise and Colin. Keeping children in the local area means they can continue in their educational setting while they maintain friendships and family connections.”

Oxfordshire County Council foster carers receive:

  • generous fees, paid in addition to the child’s allowance, based on experience and skills.
  • dedicated social worker support.
  • access to professionals involved with the child/children, linked with support groups and specialised training.

For further information go online www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/fostering, email fostering@oxfordshire.gov.uk or phone 0800 783572.

Oxfordshire County Council’s new fostering film:

These are the words of Autumn. She wanted to share her story with you.

View Autumn's short film here.

It highlights the hugely positive impact that foster carers have and the difference that can make to how a child view themselves.

Just having a caring adult in their lives makes a huge difference to them. It changes how they see themselves, how they see their future.