A region-wide recruitment campaign launched today (Monday, September 12 2016) will highlight the need for more than 700 new Local Authority fostering households, and invite local people to do something incredible.
Bolton is one of 23 local authorities backing the #youcanfoster campaign which aims to address the North West’s fostering goals.
Local authority professionals behind the campaign want to dispel some of the out-dated misconceptions about children in foster care as well as those around who is eligible to foster - and attract more people to step forward and find out more.
Across the UK more than 85,000 children and young people are in foster placements; 10,000 of them in the North West. Securing a stable home environment for these children is vital if they are to have the best chances in life and realise their ambitions. The campaign launched today is aimed at replacing foster carers leaving due to retirement and natural turnover, combined with an increase in the numbers of looked after children.
Bolton currently has more than 280 children and young people in foster placements and this number continues to grow. The town’s local council was keen to lend its support to the campaign and urge local people and families to step forward and find out more.
Pearl 56, from Farnworth, who has fostered 20 children over the last 16 years alongside her husband, says:
"My husband will agree with me when I say that it has been the most challenging but also the most rewarding thing we have ever done. I used to work as a nurse but I decided I wanted to devote my time to fostering and I love it. I enjoy working from home and it doesn't feel like work at all. We make the children part of the family and I can't think of anything else that I'd rather do. Initially we did worry about the kinds of challenges we would face, but you get an abundance of information beforehand from social services and there has never been a child that we have said no to. The key is never to be afraid to ask for help or advice if you need it.”
Bolton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, Schools, Safeguarding and Looked After Children, Cllr Ann Cunliffe, said: “We are always on the look-out for new foster carers, from all walks of life, and we appreciate those who are able to create a family for our children who need it most. The council can offer a wealth of experience and support to foster families and we encourage people who might be interested to talk to us about the possibilities available.
“We are particularly keen to hear from local residents who can offer a home to local children who are older or are part of a larger sibling group – maybe their own children have grown up and left home and they have space in their home and heart to continue family life with a foster child.”
Charlotte Ramsden from You Can Foster said; “In the UK as whole and even just the North West, we have thousands of children who need foster care and we need more carers to provide the support and stable homes that these young people need to really thrive.
“People have a lot of preconceived ideas about why they might be ruled out as foster carers but the only thing that a matter is the support you can offer the child. Whether you are older, single or never had children, you can foster. Foster carers don’t need super powers, they just need to be able to provide a solid and reliable foundation for children and young people to find theirs.”
She added: “If you are interested in fostering then your Local Authority is the best place to find out more. More people turn to their Local Authorities than any other fostering provider. Foster carers across the North West are benefiting from the support and training they provide.”
Recruitment priorities for Bolton include seeking foster placements for:
- Brothers and sisters – including sibling groups of 3 or more children/young people.
- Older children/young people – over half of all Looked After Children are 10 or older
- Long term – where children and young people are not be able to live with their own families for a number of years, if at all. Children and young people stay in a family where they feel secure, while maintaining contact with their birth family.
- Children with complex/additional needs including behaviour that challenges – this is an identified priority for a number of Local Authorities including the need for ‘short break’ carers (carers providing a variety of different types of part-time care. Stays for anything from a few hours each week to a couple of weekends each month, giving their own family or their full time foster carers a break)
For more information on fostering visit the You Can Foster website.