A FOSTER carer from Ulverston, who gave up her job to keep her mum's foster family together after she died, has been named ‘Foster Carer of the Year’ at the Cumbria Children in Care Council Awards 2020.

Stephanie Lane, 35, trained as a carer after her mum, Janet, passed away following a short illness last September, so she could keep the children together.

Ms Lane said: “When we first found out mum was ill, even though at first it looked like there would be a positive outcome, we decided I should start the approval process to become a fully approved carer. I never had to give it a second thought; I was happy to give up my work to be here for the children.

“Mum cared long-term for two teenaged siblings and also a little boy with additional needs and they had all been with her since they were tiny. It was a no brainer for me to take over where mum left off.”

She added: “It was a massive surprise to win the award I felt really humbled when I found out. I feel like I am still the ‘new girl’ as I have only fostered for 14 months but I have been supporting mum since she started fostering over 20 years ago. For me fostering is not a job, it’s an honour and a privilege to look after the children, they are the real stars.”

The Foster Carer of the Year Award is voted for by members of Cumbria’s Children in Care Council, by social worker Linda Vickers, who said: “Stephanie is a loving, kind and fun foster carer who is also a single mum. She has allowed a foster family to remain a family, remain in their community, remain in their schools, remain with their friends, remain in contact with their extended families.

“She has also supported them through their grief and loss of their foster mum they have known for years…she did all this while dealing with her own grief and loss of her mum.”

This year the event was held virtually and was hosted by members of the Children in Care Council, with awards presented by Cumbria County Councillors Anne Burns, Christine Bowditch and Sue Sanderson alongside Assistant Director of Children’s Services Lynn Berryman, Executive Director of People John Readman and Chief Executive Katherine Fairclough.

For more information about fostering with Cumbria County Council please visit www.cumbria.gov.uk/fostering