Foster mother backs recruitment drive

A FOSTER mother has told of the “huge rewards” of taking in needy children at the launch of a county council drive to recruit 200 more of the carers.

Annie Davidson

A FOSTER mother has told of the “huge rewards” of taking in needy children at the launch of a county council drive to recruit 200 more of the carers.

Gina King, who has fostered 34 children over the last 11 years, said she her life would be “so empty” if she ever decided to stop taking youngsters in at her Maldon home.

Miss King, 61, said she had never considered fostering until her marriage ended in divorce and she saw an advert encouraging people to open their homes.

“I haven't looked back since then,” she said.

“It is all about life, and quality of life and I wanted to share that quality of life with young people in the situations they are in.

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“It is incredibly rewarding - at times I have just shed tears - but there has also been an amazing amount of laughter and joy.”

With two grown-up children of her own, Miss King has also raised a boy and a girl into their late teens from the ages of eight and 10, and now has two 11-year-old boys both on permanent placements.

Miss King spoke out after Essex County Council launched its foster carer recruitment campaign for 2008 with an aim to bring 200 more of them on board.

The event, at Regiment Way Golf Centre in Little Waltham, near Chelmsford, on Tuesday was attended by councillors, members of the council's fostering team and foster carers from around the county.

Alison Baker, fostering service manager, admitted 200 new carers was a “very, very ambitious target” but she urged everyone at the event to talk to people about fostering to boost the numbers by word of mouth.

The council cares for 1,300 children every year in either long or short-term placements and is keen to meet a Government target of placing every child within 20 miles of their home town.

Ray Gooding, deputy cabinet member for schools, children and families, said: “Existing carers are hugely important in promoting that fostering is a really worthwhile thing to do.

“We would like to involve a lot more people in fostering, to come forward and give these youngsters the opportunities they really deserve.”

INTERNET LINK

www.essex.gov.uk/adoptionandfostering

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