Gloucestershire County Council is calling for more people to come forward to foster children of all ages particularly teenagers and siblings.
The call coincides with the launch of Foster Care Fortnight (Monday 17th – Sunday 30th May) – a nationwide campaign organised by the Fostering Network to highlight the need for more foster carers in the UK. Under the strapline Do you have the skills to foster?, the campaign will encourage people to consider a career in fostering and ask them to look at the skills and qualities they have which could make them a great foster carer.
Fostering can mean anything from looking after a child with a disability for a few hours to caring for a teenager for a few years. Although parents still have legal responsibility for the child, foster carers have day-to-day responsibility for their welfare.
At the end of March 2010, 418 children in Gloucestershire were in foster care out of 507 children in care. There are currently 20 children with disabilities in care and 89 children from the Black & Minority Ethnic Community in care.
Mandy and Malcolm Ward from Gloucester currently foster four children – two sets of siblings. The children all took a few weeks to settle down with the Wards and realise that they were safe and cared for. Now they are happy children with normal development.
Mandy said: “The eldest was like a parent to them – he could cook a full meal. We had to say to him ‘You don’t need to do this now, Malcolm and I do that’ and let him be a child again. Now he plays football and rugby and goes out with his friends like an 11 year old should.
Nicky and Dameon Hill from near Tewkesbury currently foster three children – a boy and his two sisters.
Nicky said: “They are very happy children. Two of them have made a huge improvement in their education and one has needed a bit more support.”
Cllr Paul, McLain, Cabinet Member for Young People, said: “Our aim for all children is to give them the best possible life chances, which means offering the opportunity to foster to the widest possible range of people. We particularly need people who would welcome older children, teenagers and brothers and sisters. We already have a tremendous network of dedicated foster carers in Gloucestershire, many of whom have been carers for 10 years or more and some for very much longer. Fostering is a challenging role to take on but it can make a real difference to a child’s life. Raising awareness of the need for more foster carers is essential if children are to find homes successfully and this is what we hope to achieve during Foster Care Fortnight. This is a great opportunity to talk to someone to see if you have what’s needed and find out more without any obligation. So if you are interested in fostering please pick up the phone and find out more.”
Gloucestershire County Council accepts applications from all sectors of the society and people can be married, single, unmarried couples, gay or lesbian, have their own children, retired, a homeowner or unemployed. All children are different, and to meet their needs the county council is looking for a wide variety of people. Foster carers receive good support and training as well as an allowance and a weekly fee, which varies depending on the skills foster carers can offer and the type of fostering. Foster carers who foster teenagers could receive over £300 a week.
Anyone wishing to find out more about becoming a foster carer can contact Gloucestershire County Council’s Fostering Team on 01242 532654 or visit www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/fostering or come along to one of their information points to find out more: Friday 14th May Sainsbury’s, Gloucester Quays 10am-4pm Saturday 15th May Tesco, Stroud 10am-4pm Wed 19th May Sainsbury’s, Gallagher Retail, Chelt 10am-4pm Friday 21st May Waitrose, Cirencester 10am-4pm Saturday 22nd May Farmer’s Market, Stroud 8am-2pm Thursday 27th May Morrisons, Tewkesbury 10.30am-4pm Friday 28th May Tesco, Lydney 10.30am-4pm