Helen knows from her vast experience a foster carer just how much difference the Fostering Network's Don't Move Me campaign could make to vulnerable young people as they enter the world of independence. She has kindly shared her thoughts with us.<--break->
I have been a foster carer for over 20 years and have campaigned for many things over the years, but none is so important to the young people that I have cared for, or the young people that I will care for, as Don’t Move Me.
I have a young person with me at the moment who is approaching 18 years this year and is absolutely terrified at the thought of having to support herself. She wants to go on to further education to get a career. She is an incredibly bright girl and she would definitely do well if she did not have this hanging over her, but as I said, she is terrified.
I believe that most foster carers would like to be able to keep the young people they are caring for until they are ready for independence. This readiness is not an age thing, but more about the maturity that they have. She has been in my care for nine years and it is very scary for her, I know that, because I know her. I have brought her up.
What people don’t realise is that fostering is a job that provides an income and because of this, most foster carers cannot afford to look after a child for free. They will take up a bedroom that would normally accommodate a fostered child, therefore taking away their potential income. If we aren’t fostering then we can’t afford to feed the people under our roof. We can’t keep her and help her get to university without support to help her stay.
So I very much support this campaign as it will definitely help there to be better outcomes for vulnerable young people. It will take away the extreme worry for the child at the possibility of not having a home when they reach 18 - on top of all the other things going on in their life!