Can you open your front door for a child in 2022?
A teacher who has also become a foster carer says it is one of the most rewarding things he has done and is urging others to think about committing to help make a difference to the lives of young people.
As a new year starts Swansea Council is appealing to residents to consider becoming a foster carer in 2022.
Dafydd Howells started fostering nearly two years and is also a full-time teacher of 20 years. It was through his job of teaching that inspired him to become a foster carer.
He said as a teacher he saw the impact fostering can have on children's lives when they lived in a home with a positive influence.
He added: "Fostering is something I thought about doing many years ago but didn't do anything about it. One day, I was chatting to a colleague in school who also fostered and it made me think it was the right time to explore my interest. I saw information about one of the local authority's fostering open evenings and decided to go along to gather some more information. As they say, the rest is history."
Currently, the council's not-for-profit fostering service need more foster carers to care for local children and young people. There are many benefits of fostering for your local authority as Dafydd explains.
"By fostering with the local authority, I feel that I can help the young people within the community I live in, offering them a safe, stable, and encouraging environment to thrive in.
"On a day-to-day basis, I have a supervising social worker who can help and support me, both with advice and training, as well as helping to support me with the needs of the young people in my care
"They not only provide the initial training needed, but also an ongoing training programme which both develops me, but also enhances the care I am able to give."
Many foster carers refer to fostering as one of the most rewarding things they have done - and Dafydd is no different.
He said: "It is very hard to explain the rewards of fostering . . . the greatest feeling is making a difference in a child's life. I offer both short break and long-term fostering, and it's been lovely to offer support to families in the form of respite, as well having a long-term placement with me, and the stability I'm able to offer.
"I currently have a 17-year-old boy who I've had for several years, and it's a pleasure seeing him develop into a responsible young man and preparing him for independence when he's ready.
"Being a foster carer is by no means easy, but I've never done anything so rewarding in my life. By being a foster carer, you get the opportunity to enrich a child's life."
Whilst there are many rewards of fostering, there can understandably be challenges at times. However, Dafydd shares his advice to anyone interested in becoming a foster carer.
"There are parts of becoming a foster parent you can prepare for, whilst there are other parts you just can't. Keeping on top of your training is an excellent way of being as prepared as you can for as many different situations as possible. Not every day will be a challenge, but you will certainly face a few you weren't expecting along the way. The support of your family and friends will go a long way to help you, in particular with babysitting, as well as being a good listening ear when you need it.
"To get you through everything, undoubtedly a sense of humour what's needed. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help doesn't mean you've failed; it means you want to do the best. Lastly, get a dishwasher! I never knew it was possible to have so many dirty dishes."
Anyone who is interested in fostering and following in Dafydd footsteps is being invited to attend a virtual information event being organised by Foster Wales Swansea.
On Wednesday 19 January the team will be hosting an online event via Microsoft Teams, 6-7pm. There will be the opportunity to find out more information, and meet both staff and foster carers.
Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services, Elliott King, said: "We really need more foster carers so if you are interested in fostering then book onto the virtual information event or contact Foster Wales Swansea directly.
"Now more than ever, we need new foster families who have a spare bedroom and have what it takes to change the lives of local children and young people. If you are ready to embark on this very rewarding role, you are just what Foster Wales Swansea is looking for. It could be the start of a new chapter in your life and that of a child's.
"In return, you will receive excellent training opportunities, 24/7 unrivalled support, and generous financial payments. In additional you become part of a wider community with other fostering households."
To book onto the event, please email firstname.lastname@example.org providing a contact name and email address, or phone (01792) 636103.
For further information about becoming a foster carer, call 0300 555 0111 or visit www.swansea.fosterwales.gov.wales