The focus of the Care Agency’s Fostering Campaign this year is ‘Every Child Needs a Home’.
The foster programme focuses on finding placements for children who can’t live at home or with their extended family. The Care Agency is looking for people who can offer short-term placements ranging from a couple of days or weeks, as well as people looking to integrate children into their family long term.
In recent years, the need for fostering has increased in Gibraltar. There are currently children aged 0 to 10, as well as teenagers who would benefit from being in a foster placement.
The Care Agency offers free training and support to people who want to take up the extremely rewarding experience of Fostering. Once the minimum requirements are met, the ideal candidate is someone who wants to make a difference to a child’s life. The minimum requirements to Foster are:
- Must be over 21 years of age
- Live in Gibraltar
- Have space at home to care for a child.
Many foster carers say that it is one of the most rewarding experiences they have ever had. The following is an anonymous first-hand account from a foster carer in Gibraltar:
“Growing up, fostering was never something my husband or I had considered. How can you raise children who are “not yours”? How can you face all the challenges of parenting, knowing that you may have to say goodbye one day? We came to our decision nearly 3 years ago, after discussing how we wanted to shape our future together. We said to ourselves, we are young, we have the means, and we have all the love in the world to give to children. We approached the Care Agency and began the process pretty much straight away. Weeks after panel, we received a phone call for respite fostering for a 10-year-old boy. His current foster placement needed additional support, and would we be able to have him on alternate weekends? To say that we felt apprehensive would be an understatement- the first night he stayed over was very surreal for all of us. For him, there was a lot of confusion as to why he was even with us in the first place, and for us it was quite strange having a stranger essentially living in our home. However, very quickly we realized just how much love he had to give, and how ready we were to just simply be there for him, for whatever he needed. We developed a relationship which I suppose you can compare to an aunty and uncle- he knew we were not his parents, but he knew we loved him and would take care of whatever he needed. He would stay with us until Monday morning, and we would take him to school. Every Sunday night, I would prepare a note for his lunch box, with just a few words saying, “Hope you have a lovely day, we can’t wait to see you next weekend, we will be thinking of you!” At first, he never mentioned it. Then one day, months in, as he went to bed on Sunday, he looked up at me very seriously and said, “will you be writing my lunch box note tomorrow?” That was the moment where I realized just how important something as small as that was to him – just the thought that somebody cared for him, and was thinking of him, even when he wasn’t there. We quickly realised that we felt we were ready to take care of this little boy full time, and approached our Social Worker with the idea of us becoming his permanent foster family. After discussions, he was placed in our full-time care. It is wonderful to see how he is thriving, and the love he has to share just abounds. Even though we do not know how long he will be with us, knowing that we have even a tiny part to play in this wonderful boy’s life means the world.”
To have a discussion with our Fostering Social Worker, phone 20078528 or email email@example.com.