Name: Pauline & Chris Smith
Type of fostering: Short-term fostering for disabled children
Family situation: Married with two grown up children.
Pauline and her husband Chris offer short-breaks to a young boy with special needs at weekends and holidays. They have been caring for the same child for five years. He’s now 14 years old.
"When we first thought about fostering we didn’t have a spare room, but I saw an advert in the paper and kept it because I thought it was something that we’d enjoy and something that we could do to make a difference. Several years later when our situation changed I got in touch with Staffordshire County Council.
"Because my husband Chris’ illness left him in a wheelchair, we were particularly aware and had a special empathy towards children with a disability. We felt working with children with a disability was something we could do.
"We look after a young boy with special needs one weekend a month. Over the years our relationship with him has grown and he looks forward to coming to us. Of course it gives his mum a break but it also gives him time away from his siblings and a chance to be the centre of attention.
"When he first came to us five years ago, he was lacking in confidence with other children. It's been great watching him progress and today he's happy and confident mixing with other young people his age.
"As foster carers we’ve been well supported by Staffordshire County Council. We had excellent initial training and have been able to continue that with more specialised training. This has been great for helping us to understand and manage behaviour. We regularly meet up with other foster carers and now I'm training to be a mentor for new carers.
"For us fostering has been challenging but also rewarding. I think anyone considering it should go for it – everyone has got something different to offer!"
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