Debbie and Paul

from Worcester

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Debbie (53) and Paul (57) from Worcester have been foster carers with Pathway Care since 2007. Despite worrying initially about juggling five children of their own and work with foster caring, they are also foster carers for four children aged 10, 12, 16 and 17.

Debbie said: “We both adore children and are nothing but big kids ourselves! We have five children of our own and I used to be a registered childminder, so our house was always full. We had a playroom built on to our house and I employed registered helpers which enabled us to do it on a larger scale.

“Before joining Pathway Care, I was a registered childminder with our local authority and then with another independent foster care agency for a number of years. We initially thought that not being married might count against us, but it’s never been an issue in all the time we’ve been fostering. Hopefully, other couples won’t be put off fostering just because they aren’t married. It’s not a necessary requirement.

“We switched to Pathway Care in 2007 after the agency we had been working for ran into difficulties and thankfully Pathway Care helped make the transition really easy for us. Pathway Care had been strongly recommended to us and being part of the team there has been brilliant. The support, professionalism and training offering is first class. The whole team, from administration and social workers to the management, is always supportive, non-judgemental, helpful, knowledgeable and friendly. They really do go above and beyond to organise training that is required and requested. I am also the regional and national representative for our foster carers and offer advice and help. I have made some lovely friends at Pathway Care which makes it the perfect organisation to be involved with.

“We have four foster children in placement who are 17, 16, 12 and 10 years old. We also have five of our own children so life is always very busy in our house! We wondered if we could do it all at first – there’s always plenty of ironing and washing to be done, along with homework and attending parents’ evenings. We also both work as well. I’m a registered nurse and Paul has his own business, but we’ve found this balance works really well. I have nursing skills which complement being a foster carer and we thrive on being busy.

“The best part of it all is being part of a lovely big, happy family. There are lots of good times, but the really memorable ones for me are when you get the child’s first natural smile. It is always very hard when a child leaves too, but we know we’ve done our best to provide the best in life for that child, just like with our own.

“Our advice to prospective carers is to be open and honest. If you love children, love family life and have a sense of humour there is nothing better in my opinion than being a foster carer. It is hard and there will be lots of laughter and tears – you won’t be the first to be experiencing a rollercoaster of emotions, but there is lots of support on offer from Pathway Care. As long as you are committed you will give and achieve so much from fostering.”

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