A foster mother has shared her story in the hope of encouraging others to join her line of work.
Kerri Sim, 38, from Tarring, became a foster parent after reading reports and court notes while working in the childcare department of a solicitors firm.
Starting in 2006, she has not looked back, helping several children to have a brighter future with her husband Cliff through Foster Care Associates.
She said: “Fostering takes you through a roller coaster of emotions, but the rewards you get from it far outweigh the difficult moments.
“After 11 years it’s second nature to us and we wouldn’t have it any other way.”
After her training, Kerri began with respite caring, looking after children for a short time to give their full-time foster carers a break.
Over the years she has taken on three boys, one of whom still lives with her, and plans to take on another.
Kerri said one of the most challenging moments was when one of the boys ‘saw red’ and nearly hit her. She said: “I stopped him and told him that he was really going to regret hitting me as I would have to call the police and told him to go smash his room up instead – not my face. This lad is now 25 years of age with his own baby on the way, and to this day he thanks me for that advice otherwise he would have had a criminal record.”
She added: “The relationship all boils down to ‘respect’ which is an extremely important word to us – once this has been gained from both sides then you have cracked it. One of our house rules states if you respect us, we will respect you…..that sentence seems to stick in their minds.”
However, there were many rewarding times, such as helping one of her foster children, who had severe learning difficulties, learn to talk and watching another join the police cadets.
Her birth daughter Daisy arrived six years ago, and Kerri said she sees her foster brother as her real brother.
The 38-year-old said one of the most difficult aspects of fostering is juggling the legal responsibilities of the job with the emotional parenting side. She said: “The way I explain it is I think twice; as the parent first and foremost, and then I think of the legal side of things, and the protocol to keep myself and the child safe.”
This is was her advice to people wanting to become a foster carer: “Involve your family and friends and make sure their thoughts and concerns come first and that they are willing to support your decision.”
To find out more, visit thefca.co.uk, or call 0800 022 4330 and speak to one of Foster Care Associates’ fostering experts.