A SWADLINCOTE couple have spoken out to encourage people to consider fostering, ahead of national fostering fortnight next month.
Mary and Andy Chamberlain have opened their home to almost 20 youngsters since they became foster carers in 2007, and they have adopted one of the children they took in.
The duo are now urging others to take the opportunity to look at doing the same.
“If people are wondering whether to try fostering I would say make that first call - do not make excuses or listen to reasons why you might not be able to do it.
“There are a lot of myths out there – like you have to own your own home or you have to be this or that.
“We rent and we foster. We have our own children and we foster. If it is in your heart then go for it.”
The Chamberlains first considered fostering almost 18 years ago, but decided at the time that they were too young.
After their second child was born with quite complex needs and learning difficulties, and their energies were taken up with looking after her.
The couple revisited the idea once their children were older – and it was a decision made by the whole family.
“We asked our children, they were part of the process all the way - social workers involved them and talked to them. Fostering really fits for us now.
“It is easy for me to pin point the highlights – the first time you see a child smile who came to you with a blank face - you take it for granted that children smile but some don’t.
“After having my own birth children, fostering is the most life-changing thing I have ever done,” said Mrs Chamberlain, 42.
The couple went the extra mile in offering a child a home in 2010, when they fostered a baby with special needs.
“We knew we couldn’t let her go,” Mrs Chamberlain said.
THERE are around 630 children in Derbyshire alone who all need a safe place to call home. That is why more foster carers are needed.
May 12 to 25 is national Foster Care fortnight, and the perfect time to make that first step towards improving the life of a little boy or girl who needs help.
The campaign is backed by Derbyshire County Council, and the organisation is using the opportunity to call for more people to come forward in the county.
Councillor Kevin Gillot said: “We always need more foster carers across Derbyshire.
“Carers retire or move out of the county and we need to be able to replace them in order to continue providing safe, happy homes for all the children we look after.
“We are looking for people from all walks of life to come forward and find out if they have what it takes to become a foster carer.”
There are many different types of fostering, from short-term care, to longer-term placements for children who cannot return to their families.
More specialised fostering can see people taking in children with particularly complex needs, or those with a disability.
An information evening is being held at County Hall in Matlock on Tuesday, May 20, from 4pm until 7pm, to give prospective foster carers the chance to learn more.
Further information is available by calling 0800 083 7744 or 01629 533071.