If you want to know what being a foster carer is like, ask Ilse – she’s been doing it for a decade.

Today marks the start of Foster Care Fortnight, which runs until May 26 – and Oxfordshire County Council is looking for more people like Ilse who may be interested or know someone who might want to become a foster carer.

With more children coming in to care across the nation – including Oxfordshire – there is always a need for new recruits.

In 2011, there were 425 children in care in the county – now there are about 780.

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Ilse, from Oxford, said: “I thought you might not be able to foster if you are single, but you can. You must be open and be patient and fun – we have a lot of fun in our house."

Ilse’s own children are really involved and make sure children feel welcomed when they move in.

She added: “Your children and your family have to completely involved, I think that’s the most important thing. The children are great role models, which I think is super important.

“Sometimes when children come in to foster care their self-esteem is at rock bottom and you can see it in the way they walk and move, and their faces are withdrawn.

"What you really want to do is scoop them up and just hug them but that is not necessarily what they want.

“The benefits are seeing them grow in to confident children, they will ask for things and they shine, they lift their chins up and become confident little people, those are the moments when you think ‘wow, we are doing a really good job’."

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Ilse’s adopted daughter, Shaniya, loves to have foster children come to live with them.

She said: “When foster children first arrive the way to make them feel welcome in to your home is to play games and if they are shy just make them laugh. It always works.”

The county council is always on the lookout for more foster carers and provides different types of fostering that best suit the children and the carer.

A generous allowance is offered alongside specialist training and support.

People who spread the word and persuade someone to contact the council’s foster care team could receive £250 once that person has been approved and a child has been placed.

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Lucy Butler, director for Children’s Services at Oxfordshire County Council, said: “We’re keen to hear from those who’d be interested.

"We are blessed with wonderful foster carers – but like all other parts of the country we’re very much on the lookout to recruit more. We’d love to hear from you.”

You do not need a specific qualification and, once approved, carers are supported to achieve the Children’s Workforce Development Council training. There are plenty of other opportunities for training and learning.

There is no age limit to foster, nor does it matter whether you are single or if you have health problems or disabilities.

You can find out more at an information meeting taking place on Wednesday at 6.30pm at Nash Court, 4440 John Smith Drive, on Oxford Business Park.

More details are on the county council website, by writing to fostering@oxfordshire.gov.uk or calling 0800 7835724.