An Isle of Wight foster carer is calling on other Islanders to follow in her footsteps and provide a loving home for a child.
Ros McCourt had long dreamed of creating a loving and nurturing home for both her own children and young people in care, inspired by her positive personal experiences growing up as the eldest of three girls in a family of five.
Working for almost four years as a support worker for vulnerable 16-25 year olds opened Ros’s eyes to the different issues and challenges these young people had to face without a loving supportive family.
At the end of each shift, Ros struggled to leave them, realising that she could do so much more by taking them into a home environment and offering 1:1 support – so she embarked on her life-changing journey as a single foster carer, and is currently caring for a 16-year old girl.
Having worked with children of different ages in a range of different settings - including as councillor at a camp in America for people with learning difficulties, and childcare on a Disney cruise ship – Ros realised that she wanted to nurture children in her own home, where she could create opportunities for them to flourish and develop confidence, self-esteem and life skills.
After researching various options, she chose to foster through FamilyPlacement.com, part of National Fostering Group, attracted by its welcoming family feel, comprehensive training and support network and ‘Good’ Ofsted rating.
Ros took on a part-time role as a learning support assistant at the Isle of Wight College to ensure she could dedicate time to complete the necessary in-house and specialist training, also receiving a foster care income once she started caring for her foster child.
Almost a year on, Ros knows it was the right decision.
“Vulnerable young people need to feel wanted by a family, to know that their voice is being heard, and to be provided with support appropriate to their age, which can be hard to achieve in a hostel or care home with changing shifts.
"Fostering allows me to be there for them 24/7, to listen to them when they want to talk, to give them the time and space to develop independence at their own pace, and to support them through both tough times and celebrations.
“The moments I treasure are when I can share in their success - it may be making a meal from scratch that they haven’t made before, or conversations where they start to let you into their world and start trusting or relying on you. Being able to praise and talk about their positive progress with professionals – and letting them hear how proud you are – is also a joy.
"It is a wonderful feeling to know that you are slowly making a difference and helping these vulnerable young people to reach the future they deserve."
Ros describes her own upbringing as “loving and empowering”, thanks to the care of her parents and a supportive church and community network.
“I was given every opportunity to develop - from playing a musical instrument to singing in the Albert hall, from swimming to martial arts lessons - so I wanted to pass on that personalised love, empowerment and self-worth to a vulnerable young person and help them fulfil their unique potential.
"As a single foster carer, I realise that to raise a child takes support from my partner (now fiancé!), friends, family and my strong faith, as well as training and guidance - any challenge can be overcome together.
“Children don’t ask to be born and no matter how old they are, they have the same basic need - a loving family who values and supports them to make the most out of their life, helping them to learn from mistakes and accept the consequences of their actions in a supportive, structured, nurturing environment.”
Ros’s advice to others considering becoming foster carers is simple:
“If you are struggling to find meaning in your job or feel you need a rewarding life-changing new role, fostering could be the right path for you. It’s not just your life that will change, you will make a difference to a whole family.”
If you would like to make a similar difference to the lives of vulnerable children and young people in your local community by becoming a foster carer, visit www.fostercarers.com
Check if you can apply to be a foster carer and get instant answers and advice at www.nfa.co.uk/thinking-about-