Kent Fostering calling for LGBTQ+ foster carers

by My Kent Family reporter

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Male or female, gay, bisexual or transgender, single or married - it is commitment, dedication and the right motivation that matter most when becoming a foster carer and not gender or sexual orientation.

There are some misleading perceptions that surround what makes the ‘perfect’ foster carer which can create a tendency for some people to assume that they would not be able to foster. Kent Fostering is working hard to break down these misconceptions and reinforce the message that applications from all are welcome.

Kent Fostering needs more LGBTQ+ foster carers
Kent Fostering needs more LGBTQ+ foster carers

With a current national shortage of foster carers, it can be challenging to find enough carers in the county for all the children and young people who require safe, loving, supportive and nurturing homes with carers who can meet their full range of needs.

Couple Dylane Hubbard and Sarah Crook began their foster carer journey with Kent Fostering almost three years ago in May 2019.

“After moving to Kent we found this new pace of life really enjoyable, and felt we had the desire, time and energy to do something really rewarding with our lives - we felt that fostering would benefit us as well as the young people.”

“During our assessment process we were offered local mentors and asked for a gay person/couple - this provided a really supportive and informative space to work through thoughts and queries that came up during the assessment process and to discuss any questions we had about whether being a gay carer had impacted on them in any way; it proved an invaluable addition to the beginning of the fostering journey and we have remained close friends over the years since meeting.”

Dylane Hubbard and Sarah Crook began their foster carer journey with Kent Fostering in 2019
Dylane Hubbard and Sarah Crook began their foster carer journey with Kent Fostering in 2019

“We have never felt that sexuality is a defining issue so didn’t have any concerns about how we would be accepted by the system, and the process proved us right as it’s a small part of who you are as a person and has no impact on your ability as a suitable carer for a young person in need. It hasn’t proved to be an issue with anyone yet, and we have found the social work team and training provided to be very inclusive.”

It is vital for all children and young people, and particularly those in care and care leavers, to live with people who can promote a strong understanding of who the children and young people are in a way in which they can be proud.

Dylanne continued: “There is a recognition that many of the young people in care may also identify as ‘other’ so providing an assortment of placements which can meet all needs that arise is really important. But what is essential to all the young people you’re receiving is your level of engagement, compassion, understanding and interest in them.”

“Whatever the needs of a young person we have found there is a lot of good quality training and development, 24hr professional support available to us as carers, and we also very quickly developed a good peer support network, so we have not struggled alone with anything.”

Kent Fostering positively encourages LGBTQ+ people to foster and already has some amazing foster carers
Kent Fostering positively encourages LGBTQ+ people to foster and already has some amazing foster carers

Mark Vening, Head of Fostering West for Kent County Council said: “Kent Fostering positively encourages LGBTQ+ people to foster and already has some amazing foster carers from this community. Foster care is open to everyone and all applicants are subject to the same questions and vetting.

“We welcome applications from anyone in Kent who would like to improve the life of a vulnerable child or young person and help to give them a sense of pride and achievement and make better sense of their own identity and experiences within society.”

For those interested in learning more about becoming a foster carer, the Kent Fostering Initial Enquiries Team can be contacted on 03000 420002 or via the website at www.kentfostering.co.uk

Here, you can have your questions answered about fostering for Kent and find out about our virtual information events where you can learn further information, meet staff and most importantly Kent’s wonderful foster carers who look after the county’s children and young people.

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