A BIRKENHEAD couple are urging more people to become foster carers as part of a national campaign.

Lois Woolley and her partner Malcolm first considered fostering more than two years ago when a friend came to them for help.

The couple have three children of their own and Malcolm has three daughters from a previous relationship.

34-year-old Lois now wants to share her experience of fostering and why she decided to become a specialist parent and child foster carer.

She told the Globe: "The idea of fostering really came to the forefront when a friend of mine, who was going through a really hard time in her life, asked if Malcolm and I would be her children’s guardian while she and her partner were going through court proceedings.

“Unfortunately, we weren’t able to take them in at that particular time.

"But it was really from that moment that we began to have serious conversations about fostering and realised we could provide a safe and loving home to children and young people in need.”

A parent and child foster carer is someone who either takes in a parent or parents into their home along with their baby. The foster carers help parents learn to care for their child who may otherwise could have been taken into care.

The family usually live with the foster carers for 12 weeks to assess if the parents are able to live independently with their child - the aim being to keep them together as a family unit.

There is currently a real shortage of specialist carers like Lois across the UK.

Not long after making an enquiry with independent agency Foster Careline, Lois undertook specialist training and has since welcomed seven families into her home.

She added: “Having not realised initially that this type of fostering was even an option, I don’t think it could have worked out any better.

"Being a foster carer for parents and children is so rewarding in so many different way. As hard and challenging it can be, it has been truly amazing to watch the babies grow and develop their own personalities.

"I see my job as looking after the parents just as much as the child and being careful to guide them on how to bond and look after their baby rather than taking over the care.

"It’s important if they are going to remain together as a family that they know how to look after their baby properly, and it’s so rewarding to see how they grow into their role as parents while they are with us.

“I get asked quite a lot about how I cope with saying goodbye the babies after they’ve lived with us for three months or so.

"I’ve previously been a surrogate so I know what it is like to grow a baby inside of me and then give it away to parents who have been struggling to have their own, and while it’s challenging, you know you’ve given that couple something truly priceless.

"So it’s kind of the same with parent and child fostering, the end goal is to ensure that the child is able to go home with its parents and they are able to remain a family.

“Of the seven families we’ve taken on, five of them have remained together which is fantastic, especially when you consider some of the troubled backgrounds the parents(s) have or the position they were in when they first came to live with us.

"Knowing that you’ve successfully supported a family so that they’re able to cope on their own is just one of the best feelings, you won’t really understand it until you experience it yourself, but it’s wonderful and just reinforces why we decided to foster.”

One of Malcolm’s daughters is now considering fostering on a parent and child basis and is currently going through the initial stages with Foster Careline.

Pauline Fitzgerald, manager at Foster Careline said: “Lois and Malcolm are amazing examples of foster carers who have created a loving and welcoming home for a number of parents and babies in need of different forms of care.

"The support that they have provided seven families they have had in their care, have made them stand out as carers with Foster Careline.

“Foster Care Fortnight is an important reminder that there are a number of vulnerable children in need of care and loving homes across the UK.

"We welcome anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer to have an informal chat with us.”

Anyone can become a foster carer as long as they are over the age of 25.

For more information on foster care contact Foster Careline on 0800 566 8337.