16 May 2016

Fostering – ‘the best decision I’ve ever made’

A woman from Hove has described becoming a foster carer as the best decision she has ever made.

A speech therapist by trade, Stella Letanka-Jeffs had thought about becoming a foster carer for a number of years before getting in touch with Brighton & Hove City Council’s fostering team.

“I love working with children, I love having little children around and I always wanted to have lots of them at home.

“Fostering is such a rewarding job. You’re helping children through what is a very difficult time for them, and you can really make a difference very quickly.

“You see them developing and the change is very noticeable. When you see that smile when they achieve something, or when you’ve given them the best Christmas they’ve probably ever had, it’s just the best feeling.

“Becoming a foster carer is the best decision I’ve ever made. I’ve absolutely loved every single minute of it.

“To anyone who might be thinking of fostering I would simply say: give the council’s fostering team a call or drop them an email. The support I’ve had from them has been amazing.”

The council’s fostering team is holding an information event on Saturday 28 May from 10am to 11:30am at Stanmer House, Stanmer Park, Brighton, BN1 9QA.

If you can’t make it to this event but would like to know more about fostering please:

  • phone the council’s fostering team for a friendly chat on (01273) 295444
  • email fostering@brighton-hove.gov.uk​
  • visit www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/fostering

For Stella the support of her partner and their own birth children has been key to being a successful foster carer.

“We couldn’t have done it without the support of our own children. I think they’ve absolutely loved it, and I think they’re better people for it as well.

“The foster children are completely part of the family. Anything we do, they do too. But you have to keep your focus on your birth kids as well.

“The assessment period you do before becoming a foster carer is very important. As part of this the fostering team made a point of sitting down separately with our children to make sure they understand what was going to happen and that they were happy with it.

“If you have any problems there is someone from the fostering team available 24-7. And I can’t even begin to tell you how much support we’ve had from other local foster carers.

“People are always ready with help and advice – a lot of the time it’s just little things but it all adds up. Whatever it is, there are people who have been there and done it.”

Financial allowances of up to £1,400 per month are available for every child or young person you foster.

The chair of the council’s children, young people and skills committee, Councillor Tom Bewick, was himself looked after by foster carers as a child. He said:

“I know first-hand just how vital foster carers can be for children who have a difficult start in life.

“They do a fantastic job and we really value the contribution they make to the life of this city.

“Almost anyone can be a foster carer. You don’t have to be a ‘2.4 kids average family’.

“You can be single or in a relationship, old or young, straight or gay. You don’t have to own your own home.

“All you need is a spare room and some experience of working with or looking after children.”