TWO North Ayrshire families who have fostered children over a number of years have described the decision as the best they have ever made.

A pair of woman from the region have opened up on their own experiences of becoming carers to a number of kids as the nation celebrates foster care fortnight.

Within North Ayrshire Council, there are flexible options to foster with different arrangements possible.

This includes the opportunity to provide children and young people with short breaks, interim fostering and/or longer-term care.

They hope that with other families sharing their own rewarding experiences, many others may consider welcoming children into their own homes.

Amongst those who have shared their precious memories is Fiona McBride who grew up in a single-parent family with three siblings.

When she was a teenager she babysat neighbours’ children and helped to run her local youth club.

She said that fostering just "seemed like the right thing for me and my own family” - and it was a certainly a decision she never lived to regret.

Fiona and late husband Stephen had their own son Shawn, now 25, and started fostering 14 years ago, going on to care for ten children.

She is currently caring for a 15-year-old boy, who has been part of the family for almost ten years, as well as a toddler aged two.

Recalling some of her fondest memories, Fiona commented: “When one of our children went swimming for the first time, he was so terrified of the water that it took us three visits to the pool before he trusted me enough to actually be in the water.

“I coaxed him to lie across my hands, promising not to let him go. He relaxed after a few minutes, and was floating so well I dropped my hands. He is now a confident swimmer and has been out sailing in the sea and has taken part in a whole lot of water sports.

“Seven of the children Stephen and I looked after have returned home and almost all of them are still there with their family.

"So, it has also been a highlight seeing that families can change and - with support - look after their children. To be honest, just watching these children flourish is a great reward."

Elizabeth Malone’s own parents were foster carers, so she was used to having lots of different children around when she was growing up.

Along with husband Kevin, 51, she started fostering 15 years ago and says it has been “the best decision” they have ever made.

Elizabeth, who has fostered more than 30 children, explained: "We waited to foster until our own children were at school, and we included them in the decision as they would be sharing their home – and their mum and dad!

“We have found fostering very rewarding, although it is a tough road at times. Our best moments include getting visits from some of the kids at Christmas. We have three children we still get to see after they moved on to their ‘forever families.'

“We have been privileged that their parents let us keep in touch. Knowing they are happy and enjoying family life – after having a difficult start in their lives – is the best feeling in the world.”

Both Fiona and Elizabeth say they have felt very well supported throughout their carers’ journey by the families for children team at North Ayrshire Council and would recommend caring roles to others.

Elizabeth added: “I would definitely recommend fostering. Our hearts burst with pride knowing we are a part of these special children’s journeys. In fact, if we hadn’t fostered our own family wouldn’t have been complete."

The council is currently seeking foster carers, with a range of options available including short break care, supported care, interim fostering and longer-term support for young people.

For more information, you can email the team at call 01294 310300 (option 4 then option 1) or go directly to the website at

On Wednesday, June 5 from 10am to 3pm, a recruitment and football fun day will be held at Kilwinning Community Sports Club where people can find out more about fostering.