Dundee foster carer Fiona Bruce’s dedication to her foster son has recently earned her a top award from the Fostering Network. And Dundee City Council hopes that Courier Country readers will be inspired by Fiona’s story to consider becoming foster parents themselves.
More than 64,000 children live with almost 55,000 foster families across the UK and the Fostering Network estimates that a further 9,070 foster families are needed in the next 12 months.
Fiona – who received the Outstanding Contribution by a Foster Carer award – and husband David care for a boy (who can’t be named) with congenital myotonic dystrophy, a long term genetic disorder that affects muscle function.
As a result he has a tracheostomy and is ventilated overnight or during the day if he is unwell.
“Fostering has brought us a lot of joy,” says Fiona. “It can be very demanding but so rewarding and that’s what matters and makes it all worthwhile.”
The Bruces’ foster child also has developmental problems and other health needs which mean he sometimes needs to be hospitalised.
And yet, over the past six years, under Fiona’s care, he has come on in leaps and bounds and she has proved that nothing is too much when it comes to the best interests of her foster child.
When Fiona first met him, as his nursery nurse six years ago, he had no speech or mobility. Since then he has developed some sign language, is learning to communicate through an app on the iPad and has recently started taking steps with the aid of a standing frame.
If he needs to be hospitalised, Fiona stays with him from 9am until 9pm.
In addition, she and her family agreed to move to a specially adapted house to allow his needs to be met, and Fiona also fights his corner to make sure he receives every opportunity to develop to his maximum potential as well as always sourcing new experiences for him.
Fiona urges anyone who has thought about fostering to go for it.
“Make a phone call and get some more information. It has given us a new outlook and purpose and has changed our lives for the better.”
www.changetheirlives.com, Facebook, or call 01382 436060.
Open your heart and your home
Every year in Dundee there are between 3 -50 new referrals of children who need permanent foster carers or adopters because they are unable to return home to their birth parents or family.
Most children who need permanent foster carers are aged 5-10 years. Most children who are adopted are under seven.
In Dundee nine new foster carers and 10 new adopters are approved each year.
There is a significant shortfall of between 10-20 permanent carers and adopters each year. However, Dundee will seek placements nationwide if they are unable to place a child with a suitable family within Dundee.
Most children are placed with their permanent carers/adopters within two years of first being accommodated.
To become a foster parent, you’ll need to be flexible, patient and understanding, and have a comfortable home with a bedroom for the exclusive use of your foster child.
The National Fostering Agency runs regular events where you can chat to foster parents to discover what it’s like to foster a child and take your first step towards making a huge difference. www.nfa.co.uk