Darren

from Ashford

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After learning his sexuality and age wouldn’t be barriers to foster caring, Darren joined the Heath Farm Fostering family in 2012 alongside his partner and were given the family they've always craved.

Since qualifying as foster carers, the couple can provide care for up to three placements at a time - and for those who are in respite, short-term and long-term placements. In total, together, they've helped the lives of 20 children.

With the ability to cope with challenging situations, and with backgrounds in education, childcare and community work, Darren and his partner, are considered a resilient foster carer unit, who have experience working with children and the disaffected youth.

More recently, Darren, despite being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2013, has continued his fostering career. And with no evident symptoms and with the support from Heath Farm Fostering, the couple's family unit currently consists of a 12 year old boy, who has Global Developmental Delay (GDD) and is currently being assessed for autism.

Speaking about his current placement, Darren said; "We've fostered him for four years as part of a long-term placement. During this time, he's has grown to be part of our family.

"Due to this success and the stable environment we've provided, we're aiming for him to remain in our care for the foreseeable future."

Darren and his partner admit the placement has not always been easy, especially at the start, commenting; "He didn't have the best start to life and was faced with several challenges that he wasn't old enough to understand.

"Without stability or the appropriate type of care - which we have worked hard to provide for him - his confidence had diminished and he found it hard to trust adults.

"With our care, he's been able to focus on tasks and has discovered talents he didn't know he had - he is a fantastic chef in the making.

"If any difficulties surface, we work through them as a family unit. We pull together, resolve and grow closer as a result. He has even started to call us Dad - which has been one of those moments where you feel so rewarded."

When first in the couple's care, the young boy attended a behavioural needs school and struggled with authority. With hard work, persistence and consistency, Darren and his partner were eventually able to move him to a more appropriate school where he was able to focus on education.

Heath Farm helped steer the couple through the process of becoming foster carers. Since joining in 2012, Darren and his partner have benefitted from several types of training, like child protection and safeguarding - learning specific skills geared towards children who are placed by the agency.

Darren added; "From the first time we visited Heath Farm, they have always been open and friendly. They put the children at the heart of every placement and really help foster carers reflect and learn during the tougher times.

"Our supervising social worker has been amazing too. Every single member of staff knows and understands you and really cares about what is going on. The manager always makes time for you and we feel highly valued as professionals."

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