‘For anyone who loves children, fostering is a wonderful thing to do. It’s not just what you give to children, it’s what they give you back.’
Those are the words of Barbara Moore, who is more qualified than most to talk about what it means to be a foster carer because she and husband Dennis have looked after more than 150 children over the past 46 years.
The Castletown couple welcomed the first child into their home in 1967 and since then have devoted their lives to providing a nurturing, safe, environment for children who have often had a tough start in life.
But the emotional rewards for the Moores have been great, and are especially evident at Christmas time when they receive cards from their former foster children, some of whom are now in their 40s with children of their own who know them as ‘Grandma and Grandad Moore’. Each Christmas card is a little ‘thank you’ for their years of compassion and caring, every ‘Happy Christmas and New Year’ another way of showing how much they appreciate what Barbara and Dennis did for them when they were children, even though it may be many years after they left their home. And you only have to talk to the couple for a few minutes to realise how much the message in each and every card means to them.
Now in their 60s they are passing on their experiences and skills to the next generation of foster carers.
The aggregate of all the smiles and laughter, tears and sadness, joy and achievements of all of the children they have cared for gives the Moores a unique insight into what foster children need, and what it takes to care for them.
The couple were not able to have children of their own and their story also shows it’s not essential to have parenting experience to become a good foster carer – the only prerequisite is to love children and to want to help them to have the best life possible.
‘Children who need foster homes just need a bit of love and lots of hugs,’ says Barbara. ‘It’s amazing to see what that can do to help them.
‘The children are often timid and shy when they first arrive and it’s brilliant to see them grow in confidence and flourish. Fostering has been a wonderful experience for us right from when we began. We would do it all over again.’
While an endless capacity to love and care are perennial qualities which all generations of foster carers must have, Barbara says that much has changed since she and her husband welcomed the first child into their home all those years ago.
‘There’s much more support for foster carers now than there was in 1967,’ she says. ‘Today, foster carers are given more training, advice, and financial support. If new foster carers have any problems they know that there will be someone they can turn to for advice or practical help.’
This advice and support is provided by Fostering First – the organisation which is part of The Children’s Centre. The Moores will be bringing their wealth of experience to one of a series of Fostering First drop-in sessions across the island in the next few weeks. The sessions will allow anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer to find out what is involved. The full list of Fostering First drop-in sessions is as follows (all events run from 3pm to 7pm):
Tuesday, January 28: Castletown Civic Centre, Farrants Way, Castletown.
Thursday, January 30: The Children’s Centre, Woodbourne Road, Douglas.
Tuesdayn February 4: Church on the Rock, Princes Road, Ramsey.
Thursdayn February 6: Peel Centenary Centre, Athol Street, Peel.
Mr and Mrs Moore will attend the session at Castletown Civic Centre, which will provide the ideal opportunity for new foster carers to benefit from their unique insights.
Nigel Howard, deputy manager at Fostering First, said: ‘Some of the children that have been placed with the Moores have required ‘love and hugs’, but they also needed guidance and stability, and the fact that they knew there was someone there for them.
‘This is what Barbara and Dennis have provided.
‘Over the years they have shown commitment, resilience, strength of character, and good family values which has resulted in the positive outcomes they have achieved with the children placed with them.
‘Every year we see a number of children who need to be cared for by people other than their own family. This may be because parents are experiencing difficulties within their own lives which affects their parenting capacity, or sometimes elements of abuse and neglect.
‘Some of these children return to families after a short period of time – sometimes week or months – but sometimes these children need a supportive foster family until they reach adulthood. We have a number of carers like Mr and Mrs Moore who are at the end of their fostering career, therefore we need to recruit new carers to ensure we are able to meet the needs of children who are coming into care.
‘All the staff at Fostering First have had great relationships over the years with Mr and Mrs Moore and we are thrilled that they have offered to ‘mentor’ new carers that are coming into the service.’
To find out more about fostering contact Fostering First, Family Placement Services, 97 Woodbourne Road, Douglas, or call 631947, or email firstname.lastname@example.org