Keith and Lesley Miller with Alan Tucker Keith and Lesley Miller with Alan Tucker

Foster carers enhance learning and are thanked for long service

More than 60 foster carers came together at Fostering North Yorkshire’s conference to be thanked for their support and honoured for their combined long service of 65 years.

This year’s celebratory event took place at the Lakeside Conference Centre in Sand Hutton, on the outskirts of York. More than 40 children in care also took part with activities including a scavenger hunt, storytelling, sports and team building games and arts and crafts.

Claire and Jonathan Graham received a certificate and voucher for their five years of service. They live at East Ness and took up fostering because they wanted to give something back.

Mrs Graham, aged 45, said: “Fostering is tiring, challenging and rewarding combined. The first children we looked after were just one and two years old. Our own children were 13 and 15 at the time and it was difficult to get the dynamics right. We’re proud to see how far the first two children we cared for have come on. We worked closely with the family and it’s lovely to see them all doing well.”

Mr Graham, aged 42, added: “Fostering is equally challenging and rewarding. You become aware of the strengths and weaknesses you have, as well as the strengths and weaknesses you never knew you had. You take part in extensive learning around trauma as the children have experienced trauma in their childhood.”

Given the complexities of behaviour which children in care can display, Fostering North Yorkshire brought in guest speaker Kati Taunt, from Trauma Informed Practice UK Ltd. Ms Taunt held two key workshops to support foster carers to deal with the trauma displayed by the children they look after.

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The fostering conference has been a regular event for many years. Alan Tucker is Fostering North Yorkshire’s placement and fostering manager, and this conference was his last as he is retiring in June.

Mr Tucker started working for North Yorkshire Council in July 2003 as a policy officer, moving onto quality assurance/performance management work, commissioning and then managing the fostering service for the last ten years.

As a social worker, he spent his practice years working for Barnardo’s, Action for Children and at a children’s hospice. In 2009, Mr Tucker was brought in to lead on a computing system for social workers and from 2012 to 2015 he was a commissioning manager to find homes for children in care. He then took charge of the fostering service.

Mr Tucker said: “I’ve worked hard to maximise our resources to get as many children in care a good, long-term stable home. Despite difficult financial challenges that all councils find themselves in, our service is very successful.

“I’ve been authentic to foster carers, as I have the utmost respect for them. They do a difficult job and it’s amazing to see what they achieve with the children they care for. Their commitment stops children who are at risk of harm or crime ending up with poor future prospects. Our foster carers epitomise what it is to be fundamentally human.

“Often, my role sees me having problems to solve, so it is lovely to attend the conference and see all the positives that fostering brings. Our foster carers are an amazing bunch. I’m proud to think that I’ve helped wonderful people become foster carers who then turn a child’s life around.”

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Keith and Lesley Miller are from Harrogate and have been foster carers for 15 years.

They said: “We’ve worked with Alan for 10 years and found him to be really approachable and he’s always found solutions to any problems we’ve had. He’s been an asset to our fostering journey.”

There are a range of opportunities for anyone interested in fostering, including short break fostering or planned regular sleepovers which provide options for adults who work full-time to foster at weekends in a flexible way.

Foster carers receive full training and support to help turn young lives around. There are also tax-free payments and allowances available.

You can find out more about fostering local children in North Yorkshire at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/fostering-north-yorkshire

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