We spoke to Debbie and Vic, a retired couple currently fostering for Essex, to find out why they recommend fostering with Essex County Council.
Tell us about yourself
Hi, we are Debbie and Vic Finch and we are a retired couple who have been fostering for over 18 years. Over the years, we have fostered over 100 children and we are still as passionate about fostering today as we were 18 years ago. We have fostered both younger and older children and have also fostered siblings. Vic and I are both in our sixties now and are parents and grandparents. We have some great fostering memories that we will cherish forever.
What led to you becoming a fostering family?
We first considered fostering because we wanted to make a difference in the lives of children. At the time, we thought it best to wait until our youngest daughter was 15 before we started fostering. In hindsight, we could have fostered earlier and our daughter often asks why we waited so long but we are just grateful to be doing it now.
Fostering has made such a hugely positive difference to all of our lives and we couldn’t imagine life any other way.
How has fostering benefitted the children you have cared for?
Some of the children we have fostered in the past come back to visit us and bring their partners and children. That is the best feeling in the world as you know that you had an input into them going on to lead a successful stable and happy life.
We had one little boy with us who had sometimes quite challenging behaviour and we were worried about his future. We provided a loving home for him and gave him the time and patience that he needed. We are so proud that today he is running his own successful business. He often visits us with his wife and children and has told us that if it wasn’t for fostering, he may not be in the position that he is today.
Why did you choose Essex County Council?
We really wanted to foster in Essex and help a child from our local community. At first we were a bit anxious about fostering but Essex County Council put us in touch with an existing foster carer and we were able to have a less formal chat about what it all involves.
The social workers are aware of your individual situation and as Essex County Council has responsibility for the children, they are able to carefully match the children to your own family.
We really would recommend Essex County Council as the training and support you receive is amazing and without this, we would never have been able to foster for as long as we have.
You really become part of a fostering community with the council’s fostering service.
What advice would you give to potential applicants?
If you think you are too old to foster, you are not. When we first started fostering Vic was still working but now that we are both retired, we are definitely enjoying the whole experience a lot more.
There are a lot of misconceptions about fostering and some people believe that if you are older it means you don’t get to enjoy time away from the kids. That’s not true. Vic and I still manage to go off and have a spot of lunch together when the children are at school and we also get 28 days paid holiday a year. A lot of people also believe you can’t do activities with the kids if you are older. We do lots of activities with the children like day trips and outings to the park.
Essex County Council is always looking for people who can care for those most in need, and the transferable skills and experience that police officers have often mean that they are very well equipped to become foster carers. If fostering is something you are thinking of doing, we urge you to go online and register your interest today.