October is the Fostering Network’s national Sons and Daughters month.Advertisement
The campaign celebrates the important role that birth children play in welcoming fostered children into their families.
18-year-old Courtney Price from Ashton-on-Ribble is one such young person being recognised this month.
Courtney’s family have been fostering with Lancashire County Council since she was four-years-old.
Courtney’s mum and dad, Lisa and Pete, were encouraged to foster by Pete’s parents who were already themselves fostering. Some initial concerns about how it might impact on Courtney were dealt with when a LCC social worker visited their home.
Now, 14 years later, Courtney has been a sibling to nine foster children, ranging in age from six to 17. She has also welcomed birth brother JJ, who is now four-years-old.
The Price family generally undertakes long-term fostering so they can create a forever home for each child.
The process of welcoming a child starts with short visits building to longer overnight stays. A special teddy is placed on their bed and they’re given a booklet with photos of the family, pets and the home.
The child will bring items to put in their bedroom on each visit, and they’re invited to personalise their space with wallpaper, bedding, and other decorations.
Speaking about her experiences of new children coming into the home, Courtney said: “I try to make the children feel comfortable because it’s a nervous situation for everyone. I speak to them and show them our home to help get to know them.”
Courtney says she has gained a lot from being a sibling to foster children, and it has even influenced her career choices.
“It’s made me realise how important family is,” says Courtney. “I’ve also learnt to be more kind and patient with people, as they have had different experiences to me.
“I used to be quite shy but now I want to care for people and have started a role caring for vulnerable young people. Fostering has guided me into something I’m really passionate about that I wouldn’t otherwise have found.”
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Lancashire County Council offers a raft of support for Courtney and other young people in her situation.
“There’s a sons and daughters group where we go every term to do activities. We have four foster families that get together and support each other. All us children go out together, and I’ve made some good friendships.
“When new children join us there’s an initial adjustment period. Social workers visit a lot and help support us through the change.”
Courtney is also giving back to the service, having mentored a new foster family’s birth children by sharing her experiences with them.
Courtney’s mum Lisa says she plays a pivotal role in the family’s successful fostering experience.
“Children need safe homes, they need to be able to be children.
“Courtney has taught them how to do that, as a lot of them may have been a carer or have had to make decisions to survive.
“Children learn from their peers and Courtney has been a role model for our foster children.”
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County Councillor Cosima Towneley, cabinet member for children and families, said: “We would like to say thank you to all the children of our foster carers and celebrate the important contribution they make to foster care.
“Sons and daughters of foster carers are unsung heroes and we want each and every child and young person who grows up as part of a fostering family to know just how important they are.
“We will be sending a thank you card to every son or daughter this month, as a small token of our appreciation. If you think you have what it takes to foster then please get in touch.”
An online information event for people thinking about fostering will be held on Wednesday 20 October from 6pm to 8pm. Staff will be available from the fostering recruitment team, as well as foster carers. The event will include a brief talk to outline the process, followed by a chance to ask questions.
To find out more, visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/fostering or call 0300 123 6723.
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