“Foster carers are like farmers, they never retire,” says Sixmilecross foster carer Kenny Clements.
Kenny and his wife Janet have been foster carers for the last 34 years with the Western Trust. Recently, the kindhearted couple were presented with The Fostering Network’s Lifetime Recognition Award at the annual Northern Ireland Foster Care Awards.
The couple began fostering in 1985 when they were newly married, and since then they have cared for more than 40 children.
Janet and Kenny have a farm in Sixmilecross and Janet is a nurse by profession.
The couple believe that the farm has played an integral part to their fostering, with the children being heavily involved in farm life.
One boy, for example, struggled to settle in at the farm until he helped one day with lambing and delivered a lamb himself, under Kenny’s close supervision.
The couple’s commitment to fostering has led to Kenny studying, two nights a week for six years, and gaining a degree in social care so that he could better understand the needs of the children in their care.
Kenny and Janet have fond memories of every child who has stayed with them and keep in contact with many of them. Despite having more than three decades of fostering behind them they have no intention of giving up yet, as Kenny says, ‘Farmers and foster carers never retire!’
Janet O’Kane, the couple’s social worker who nominated them, said, “Kenny and Janet have a quiet, calm home environment where children are able to find some peace and respite.”