LGBT Fostering and Adoption Week
Just a year after applying to be foster carers and Pontypridd’s Graham and Tyrone Williams have welcomed a teenage boy into their home and are enjoying securing the best for children and young people in their care.
Already parents to a toddler son, Ollie, Graham and Tyrone joined Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s army of dedicated foster carers in January 2015 and welcomed their first foster child, an eight-year-old boy, in June of the same year.
When he returned to his birth family, Graham and Tyrone went on to welcome a teenage boy who still lives with them.
Fostering allowed Tyrone to leave his job as a special needs teaching assistant and he focuses on fostering and raising their son full-time. He has applied the skills and experience gained from the training that he has received from the Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Fostering Team, as well as his previous experience in education to ensure the teenager is happy, reassured and settled.
Graham , a South Wales Police officer, continues to work and also says the skills and experience he has from the training that he has received both from RCT and throughout his career have helped him to be a better foster carer.
Graham and Tyrone are no strangers to the support provided by Rhondda Cynon Taf Council. They adopted their son via the council in 2014 after its friendly, supportive and welcoming process was recommended to them by New Family Social, the charity for LGBT families and families-to-be and also their lesbian friends who had adopted their child via the council.
The same approach is applied by the Council to potential LGBT foster carers and the Council is proud to have been recognised as one of Stonewall’s Top 100 employers.
Graham and Tyrone initially considered adopting a second child but after consideration wanted to help and support a number of children and families and after discussion made a decision that fostering would allow them to do this. Tyrone had always wanted to foster and the pair began the discussions that led to them applying to be foster carers.
Key to this decision was the fact their own son benefited from 10 months of extraordinary care from his foster carer before they adopted him. They say fostering is part of his life story and the process they went through to adopt him opened their eyes to fostering and the hugely important role that foster carers play in the lives of children and young people.
They also felt their individual skills and experiences from their professional and personal lives would make them good foster carers and, as adoptive parents, knew they could care for a child in their home who had experienced difficult early life experiences.
Both agree the fostering assessment and approval process was relatively plain-sailing and very similar to the adoption process. They say it certainly wouldn’t be an onerous process for anyone who was truly passionate about being a foster carer.
Tyrone explained how their fostering journey began. They started their assessment in February and went to the fostering panel in May and were approved shortly after their panel date.
He said: “Our first placement was shortly afterwards in June 2015 and we had an eight-year-old boy who lived with us for a few months. Receiving the first phone call and then having a social worker arriving with him a few hours later was nerve-wracking, but we got on with it and tried to make him feel as relaxed as possible.
“We kept saying to ourselves how we would have felt if, at eight years of age, we were suddenly put into a house with complete strangers.
“During those first few months, we attended professionals meetings and supervised contact with his family. We did experience some challenges along the way, but received great support from our supervising social worker.
“Our second placement is a teenage boy with Autism, which was a bit of a surprise to us as we had initially thought our preference would be younger children with no additional needs. However, my experience of working with children with Autism meant we felt we had the right skills.”
Graham added: “We are so pleased we were asked to consider looking after a child outside of what we originally considered as that little push has been great for us. We would encourage anyone considering fostering not to forget about older children and those with additional needs.
“As foster carers, we are here to offer a happy and safe home, while helping young people reach their full potential. We see ourselves as professionals, who are there to get the best for the child who is placed with us. That involves making contact with agencies and attending meetings to speak on behalf of the child.
“We’ve enjoyed our time fostering so far, it’s been a challenge and we hope we’ve helped a little along the way.”
Rhondda Cynon Taf Council is looking to recruit more foster carers to provide safe, stable and nurturing homes for children and young people who, through no fault of their own, are unable to live with their birth families.
To foster in RCT, you need a spare room, a sense of humour and a commitment to children and young people.
In return we offer generous fees and allowances that reflect the nature of the role. If you currently foster for an agency and are considering moving to RCT, a Local Authority that has been providing exceptional foster care for over 60 years, your current fees, allowances will be honoured.
RCT foster carers also benefit from a dedicated support social worker, support from other foster carers, free all-inclusive leisure access and the chance to secure formal training and qualifications.
Find out more at www.fosteringrct.co.uk or 01443 341122. You can also find out more about fostering and read some more stories from our exceptional carers at www.facebook.com/RCTFosterCare.
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