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Respite foster carers urged to step forward for children with disabilities in Essex

Laura Adeyefa is a foster carer with Essex County Council, offering a respite break for mum Laura and her disabled child Lizzie.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

With Mother’s Day approaching, Essex foster carers have shared their experience as foster parents for children with disabilities, proving that mothers come in all different forms.

Essex County Council is encouraging local people to consider short break or respite fostering to support children with disabilities, which has a huge impact on the child and offers important respite for the child’s parents.

“I’m making a difference to a young person’s life and it is so rewarding” says Laura Adeyefa, who is a foster carer for Lizzie aged 10. Laura is a specialist nurse at an NHS Trust Monday to Friday, but she supports Lizzie and her birth mum, who is also called Laura, one weekend a month.

“I always had a desire to foster so that I could make a real impact for children with additional needs on a one-to-one basis. Offering respite care one weekend a month is perfect for someone just starting out as a foster carer. It has allowed me the flexibility to pursue my passion around my full-time job and still have time for myself.

“I have really enjoyed getting to know Lizzie and what makes her happy. If there are ever any challenges, for example any behavioural or medical aspects, I know I have 24/7 support available through Essex County Council and the training provided has been invaluable. It’s one of the best decisions I have ever made.”

Speaking about the support foster carer Laura provides to Lizzy, her mum Laura, from Kelvedon, said: “Laura is the perfect foster carer. I wish there were more people like her that would come forward to help families like ours to have that extra support. Families so desperately need that break, especially if they have other children to care for.

“I have two disabled children and family life would be incredibly hard without Laura’s support. Lizzie gets to enjoy safe and quiet time away and she gets to experience new things like soft play and swimming.”

Another local mum, Melanie from Chelmsford has also praised the value of respite fostering for her son Oliver, who has autism. Oliver visits foster carer Emma Duffy every week and, over the last three years he has made great progress with his development and independence, while offering Melanie and the family some time to recuperate.

Melanie explains: “Emma and her family have given Oliver so many more opportunities, fostering has opened up a whole new world for him. We trust Emma implicitly and Oliver loves Emma like his second family, a second home.

“Oliver’s autism can be challenging to manage, he often needs extra time or attention, but fostering has allowed us to have that time back as a family and it has brought us back from breaking point. Fostering is a real lifeline for us.”

Foster mum Emma Duffy said: “Fostering has made me look at the world in a different way. It is so fulfilling to help children with disabilities and to know how valued your support is to the parents. Fostering makes a real difference in their lives, and we treat our foster child Oliver like family.”

Cllr Beverley Egan, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Early Years at Essex County Council, said: “This Mother’s Day we’re proudly celebrating mothers in all different forms, but especially our fantastic foster parents across the county who provide crucial support for families of children with disabilities.

“If you have a passion for supporting children with or without disabilities, we encourage you to consider respite fostering. You can make a huge difference to a child’s life from as little as one weekend a month.”

Essex County Council are hosting a free Fostering Information Event at Harlow Library on Saturday 18th March, 11am-1pm, where all are welcome to pop in and find out more about the different fostering opportunities available.

Find out more by visiting or call: 0800 801 530, or join us at a virtual information event