A Couple shares their experience fostering children and raising their own

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Foster parent Celia Simpson and her loving husband Danny

Local foster mum shares how the power of community can change a child’s life.

“I wasn’t going to give up on him, no matter what.”

There are more than 80,000 children and young people in care, and that number is set to rise to more than 100,000 by 2025 according to Fostering Network. And, figures show that there is an overrepresentation of Black children and young people in care, and while there is an overall shortage of foster carers, there is also a shortage of Black foster carers. Foster Care Associates (FCA) are encouraging more people to become part of the fostering community in Thames Valley, alongside foster parents like Celia and Danny.

Celia and her husband Danny share their experiences fostering children and raising their own in a predominantly black community and share the value of community. They want to inspire more people in Black and ethnic communities to open their homes and hearts to children who need it the most.

Celia Simpson and her husband Danny have been fostering the same child since 2009. Arriving at just six years old, Lewis* has been on a transformative journey, and now at the age of 20, he is applying for apprenticeships and working towards his own career.

Over the last 14 years, with the support of their family, the wider Caribbean community, and the local fostering agency FCA, Celia and Danny feel that they wouldn’t have been able to continue on their journey. 

Celia was determined to give her foster child the best life she could, she said: “Lewis*(name changed to protect foster child’s identity) came from a really difficult background, things were tough. But I wasn’t going to give up on him, no matter what.”

Family life for Lewis* was difficult before he came to live with Celia and Danny, and as Celia has experienced negative policing of black children in her neighbourhood she took it upon herself to make sure that her foster son and birth children knew how to manage the situation. 

Celia instilled values of respect and humility in her children and equipped them to deal with the discrimination they may face in society as people of colour. 

She said, “It is sadly common for children of colour to be targeted in searches of knife crimes or drug searches but I have always talked to my children about it from a young age. 

“I have taught them to treat others with respect and be prepared for what’s to come. I think it is good to teach them early on so that they know how to behave, how to respond, and how to protect themselves.”

Celia believes that it is important for children of colour to be placed within communities that are capable and willing to understand their struggles and challenges. 

She said: “It depends on the foster carer and on that child. It depends on how much work you are willing to put in making the child feel safe and understood.”

Celia comes from a multicultural family which has always welcomed foster children from all ethnicities and backgrounds. Her own foster son is mixed race and was able to find a community for himself within his extended foster family.

Celia said: “It took him (foster child) a while to realise that some of my relatives were the same as him because his family is half Irish as well, and when he met my nephews, he realised he was just like them.”

Celia believes that more people from Black and ethnic minority communities should open their homes to children who need them.

She said: “I would encourage anyone who is willing to go above and beyond to take up fostering because it is a 24/7 job and brings a lot of responsibility with it. Fostering is not an easy journey, but certainly a rewarding one.

“I wish I had taken up fostering earlier, I have changed as a person, I have changed as a parent. I actually listen more – that’s why I love fostering.”

Celia and her husband Danny share their experiences fostering children and raising their own.

Celia and Danny foster with FCA Thames Valley, an Ofsted “Outstanding” fostering agency which has been commended for understanding children’s cultural and ethnic needs, celebrating heritage and respecting culture and diversity throughout the whole organisation.

For more information about making a difference to vulnerable children and young people, visit www.thefca.co.uk

*name changed to protect foster child’s identity

Faustina Anyanwu
Faustina Anyanwu
Faustina Anyanwu is a features writer focusing on people's stories, entrepreneurship, start-ups, social media marketing, and profiling. Follow her on Twitter - @fauntee Official Website: www.faunteebon.com Mantra: Real Women Think Legacy.