Porth foster carer Tracy Lockyer will have not one, but five, children to keep her busy this Mother’s Day – and she would not have it any other way!
Tracy and her husband Matthew have been with Fostering RCT for three years and have dedicated their time as foster carers to providing a home and love to siblings so they do not have to be separated at one of the most difficult times of their lives.
In fact, the pair bought and rebuilt their home with the sole intention of filling it with looked-after children who need the love, care and support of foster carers, because they are unable to live with their birth families.
At present, the couple are looking after five siblings aged from 19 months to eight years, including twins, and they say the true reward of fostering is watching the children thrive and grow under their care.
When Matthew and Tracy first began fostering, Tracy still worked full-time as a machinist and Matthew was the main carer.
The first children they welcomed into their home were siblings aged 16, 14, 8 and six. They have also cared for two brothers and then a group of four brothers and sisters who they still stay in touch with.
Tracy left work last year to foster full time and says her only regret is not joining Fostering RCT sooner.
She said: “It is so important that brothers and sisters are able to stay together when they are taken into care. They are often each others’ support systems and you can see the older children naturally looking after the younger ones, so it is so important to keep them together where we can.
“We saw this house online and knew it would be perfect for fostering and it has been. When you show the children their rooms and they know they are safe and wanted, it makes all the difference.
“I still remember the first group of brothers and sisters who arrived at our house three years ago and the oldest boy was 16. He didn’t speak or eat that night and we just had to leave him to settle in and gain his own confidence.
“That same boy passed his driving test recently and the first car journey he made was to our house, to show Matthew his new car. It’s amazing when you get to see the difference you have helped to make.
“There are so many people out there in our communities who would make wonderful foster carers, they just don’t know it yet.
“All you need is an open heart and the ability to make a commitment to the child or children in your care, for as long as they are with you.
“There are social workers and medical professionals on hand to help with any issues there may be. Your role as a foster carer is to be the professional care giver and that starts with routine and normal family life.
“Getting up on time for school, having breakfast, going to classes on time, having a friendly face consistently meeting you at the school gates at the end of the day can make a massive difference to a child’s behaviour and confidence.
“It does not have to be complicated, love, routine and support are the main things the children need and, when they get it, they thrive, which makes us so proud.
“I have the best job in the world. The worst part is when you have to say goodbye to them and, when the last group of siblings left us, I honestly did not know if I could foster again because they were so special to us. But we know we have to say goodbye for them to go on to the next stage in their lives. We know they can go on to be all that they want to be and use what we have shown them.
“And them moving on means we have room to help another group of brothers and sisters for as long as they need us.”
Fostering RCT is recruiting carers now. There are over 680 babies, children and young people in the care of Fostering RCT who rely on carers like Matthew and Tracy to give them the care and support they need.
All you need is a spare room, a sense of humour and the ability to commit to the needs of the child or children in your care.
All Fostering RCT carers are professionals who work alongside social workers, teachers, counsellors, medical experts and psychologists to raise the looked-after children of RCT.
They are paid fees and allowances that reflect their caring role and each has the support of a dedicated supervising social worker, as well as access to extensive training and development opportunities and the benefit of being part of the large Fostering RCT family of carers who live in the county borough and support each other.