Fostering and caring for children with disabilities

Children with disabilities wait the longest for a carer to be found for them.

Candice Harper from Merton Council’s Adoption and Fostering team spoke to a number of Merton residents who have opened their lives to children with disabilities to help them lead a better life. These carers are happy to speak to the media about their experiences.

Foster carer

In June 2005, Pamela Galliers received an award from the Merton fostering team for forty years service. During this time she has fostered over 100 children, many of which have had special needs.

Pamela said: “In my opinion they enrich your life and you can learn as much from them as they can learn from you, in fact probably more.”

Young carer

Kimberley is a 16 year old young carer who helps her family look after her ten year old sister Cortney, who has cerebral atrophy. Kimberley wants to work with disabled children when she leaves school.

Kimberley said “It’s rewarding caring and looking after Cortney. But yes you need to have patience. For example sometimes you can’t easily understand what it is she is trying to say and this can be frustrating, but you just need to persevere.”

Respite carers

Respite care provides a break for primary care givers. Respite care can range from a few hours a week, once a month, or a few weekends a year. A respite carer can help by giving the family a general break or by working with a family with a child with disabilities and supporting them so that the child can remain at home.

Angela Martin has been a respite carer for children with disabilities many years for Merton.

Angela said: “I look back and see what a wonderful life I’ve had and want to do something to help others to have a wonderful life too. I have so much to share and if I don’t – what’s the point of it all? Through my work I’m helping other families do something that makes their life better.”

Fleur Davies is also a respite carer, and has recently starting a family of her own. She is also a health visitor and has a different views on the role of respite carer and their importance in society.

Fleur said: “If there were more respite carers available, more carers would take it up. Parents with disabled children, who often have to fight continuously for help with their children, might not have to wait so long or struggle so much. Respite carers have the value that they are able to help fill the gaps.”