MARTIN SMITH: Crucial help for vulnerable children

Sir Elton John (left) and partner David Furnish. Photo: Clive Gee/PA Wire
Sir Elton John (left) and partner David Furnish. Photo: Clive Gee/PA Wire
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TRACY Brown is a member of the Sheffield-based Voices of Foster Carers group. She has been looking after vulnerable children for 14 years.

“Fostering is in my blood,” said 41-year-old Tracy.

Sheffield foster carer Tracy Brown

Sheffield foster carer Tracy Brown

“I have been doing it so long now it is second nature. It is only being able to share what you have with others. It is just another plate at the table and another bed. “

Mother-of-two Tracy began fostering after the mother her son’s friend fell seriously ill. She knew if she didn’t step in the boy would have to go into care.

“It seemed a natural choice for me,” she added. “But as a single parent I knew it would be a struggle financially so I approached social services to see whether I was entitled to any help.

“They suggested I become a registered foster carer. After he went back to his mother I thought “I can do this and I am quite good at it”, and I knew that I wanted to foster more children.”

Tracy has since fostered nine children, some of whom have stayed long term with her family.

“Fostering is not rocket science. Most adolescent behaviour is quite challenging and is a learning curve for parents and teenagers.

“Teenagers in care are the same adolescents but they have just had a bad start in life. You get excellent training and there is always someone there to help deal with issues these youngsters may have. All I can say is that is a really rewarding experience and one I have never regretted. The fact that it is now being advertised as a proper job is fantastic news. It is a full time job and it is something people should be paid to do.

“After all you are offering a professional service by looking after our city’s children.”