A COUPLE from Halstead are backing a campaign to encourage more parents to consider fostering children.

Essex County Council has launched its drive to find 100 more foster carers, kick starting with Foster Care Fortnight which runs from May 13 until May 26.

Kaylie, 30, and Simon Barber, 32, have first-hand experience helping to transform the lives of children and are supporting the councils drive.

The couple, who have three children of their own aged from four to 12, have been fostering since their youngest was a year old

During the fortnight the council is urging younger parents, like Kaylie and Simon, with their own children at home to see if they have room in their lives for more.

Kaylie, who grew up in close proximity to her aunt who also fostered says she 'loves' it.

She said: "As long as you have patience and are willing to put in the effort then you will be fine.

"It does get hard; they are not your children and you have to deal with their families and their problems.

"Every child that comes into our home is different and some might be challenging but the support from Essex County Council is really good. There is so much training available for virtually every situation you find yourself in."

The couple specialise in fostering up to the age of two.

"Our first placement was two days old when he arrived and 15 months old when he left," Kaylie added.

"It was awful when he went but I believe the day I don’t get upset when a child leaves there is no point in doing this role.

"You are meant to get attached. It was upsetting for our children but partly because they got to know this child’s dad well. But they coped really well and simply looked forward to the next child arriving.

"They have realised they play a big part in making a difference in the lives of the children we look after. When they come home from school they play with our current foster placement, a little girl, and bond with her while I am in mum mode.

"I tell them they are giving her what she has never had, siblings."

There are now around 750 children in foster care in Essex and this number has been increasing for the past two years.

The rate of children leaving care has slowed down, bringing into sharp focus the need to recruit more foster carers for children of all ages, siblings and children with disabilities.

To talk to people like the Barbers and find out about some of the children you could help, call 0800 801 530 or visit www.essexadoptionandfostering.co.uk/fostering.

Drop-In Fostering Information Events are also being held in Basildon on 15 May, Chelmsford on 18 May, Harlow on 21 May, and Clacton on 23 May.