Foster carers amongst those celebrated at County Council’s annual Children and Families awards

Three local foster carers were honoured at an annual awards ceremony celebrating the outstanding work of staff and carers in Hampshire County Council’s Children and Families service.

Oct 25 2023

The Children and Families Awards were held at Ashburton Hall in Elizabeth II Court, Winchester on Thursday 19 October.  

Councillor Edward Heron, the County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “We often talk about the unique capacity of foster carers to transform the lives of the children and young people in their care. From supporting children to build solid relationships with their birth parents, to helping them lay the foundations for their future education and careers – it’s no exaggeration to say that the selfless commitment shown here is truly life changing. 

“Of course, we know that none of this would be possible without the unwavering support, advice and mentoring of our dedicated fostering teams. To that end, it’s fantastic to see our staff being celebrated for the hard work they do behind the scenes – often going well beyond the call of duty to make sure that children are supported every step of the way.  

“It’s sadly not possible to offer an award to every incredible person working to support vulnerable children and young people in Hampshire but I want each and every one of them to know that they are all appreciated and valued, day in and day out.” 

The Award winners 

Foster carers Tracy and Carl Birks took home the award for Outstanding application of the *Hampshire Approach – a transformative ‘strengths-based’ model for supporting very vulnerable children and families. This award recognises their absolute dedication to the care of young people who, with the couple’s support over the past five years, are now settled and loving school. The couple have also committed themselves to helping children reunite with their birth families.  

Tracy said: “This is an area of work within fostering we find most rewarding. It is not always easy, but it’s the outcome we’re ultimately striving for.” 

Sian and Mark Tepper received the award for Outstanding contribution to the life of a child. The couple have looked after many vulnerable children during their time as foster carers with Hampshire County Council. Their award recognises their support for one particular young person who, with the couple’s guidance, recently passed their GCSEs with flying colours and is now studying A Levels at college. With perseverance and patience, and aided by Sian’s previous experience as a teacher, the young person was able to flourish and thrive in school. 

Sian said: “We’re absolutely thrilled with our award and the recognition that with our support, these children can have a bright, successful future. It’s also important to acknowledge our family and friends, whose love and dedication plays a huge part, and without whom we wouldn’t be the wonderfully happy foster family that we are.” 

 Finally, Assistant Team Manager Dominique Dunning received the award for Going Above and Beyond. A foster carer herself, Dominique is also responsible for supporting the County Council’s ‘Hampshire Hive’ scheme – a support network of local groups which effectively create an ‘extended family’ for foster carers and looked after children in communities across Hampshire. 

Her two nominations speak of Dominique’s absolute commitment to being child-centred in all that she does and exceeding the expectations of her role to support vulnerable children in times of challenge. Examples include taking time out of her day at work to look after a child waiting for a foster care placement to be found; staying with a child in hospital overnight so they would not be alone; and stepping in to help other foster carers to care for a large group of siblings so they would not need to be separated.  

Dominique said: “I feel very pleased to have been nominated and overwhelmed to have received an award. Hampshire Hives are a transformational service supporting the county’s foster carers. I’m incredibly proud to be part of such a creative team and as a foster carer myself, I also benefit from this amazing community of Hampshire County Council foster carers. It’s a pleasure to work every day with people committed to the very best outcomes for children in our care.” 

To find out more about becoming a foster carer, visit the Fostering Hampshire Children website and download an information pack, or call the team on 01489 587052. 

* The Hampshire Approach focuses on developing positive relationships through listening, respecting, and working together with the child, their family and those with a responsibility to them, recognising and building on those strengths to achieve the best outcomes for the child in the long term.