Foster Care Fortnight
It’s Foster Care Fortnight 2015 and these next two weeks will see the sector talking to the rest of the country and for many, hearing something about fostering for the first time. Having worked in the sector for over 13 year I’d be forgiven for thinking that everyone must know what fostering is but the reality is actually that only about 20% know about fostering. If you are involved in fostering does that surprise you?
So the question is: How do we get the word out about fostering? It is one thing to be there when someone goes searching because of an existing interest in fostering, but how do we get the average person who does not know about the concept of fostering to come across this sector?
The Fostering Network is the leading fostering charity in the UK and is at the forefront of Fostering Fortnight. They have highlighted over the years that the collective voice of the sector over these two weeks makes the loudest and most impactful sound. This year’s theme is ‘Make a connection’. To that end they are encouraging everyone to print out, complete, photograph and share themselves holding this sign How are you connected? to show what their connection to fostering is. This could include foster carers, fostering staff, those thinking of fostering. We may all have our own connection in different ways.
If you follow our facebook page I have started off with my picture and how I am connected.
So what kind of foster carers are needed?
The number of new foster carers required in the UK amounts to somewhere in the region of 8600. But what kind of carers are needed or moreso, where is the biggest unmet need in relation to children. The answer will probably not surprise you. Year on year not much changes. Carers to care for teenagers will remain for the foreseeable future the main need. Many people for genuinely good reasons like the idea of caring for a baby or young child. This is fair enough, equally altruistic and may be relevant to their personal circumstances. However there remains a number of children who are having to move long distances from home or even to residential care homes because there are not the local foster carers out there willing to care for them. In the last 12 months for example, the number of teenage girls who are vulnerable, with low self-esteem and who are at risk of sexual exploitation have filled our referral email inbox. These young people in these circumstances have existed for years, but now, following the events in Rochdale and Rotherham, they are being recognised as worthy of protection. The fact that society has changed to recognise this is great in theory but where are the carers willing to work with these young people? These young people need to feel that they are worth something, that they can make something of their lives that they don’t have to listen to the people who seek out only to exploit. Of course, not everyone will have those skills, resilience or patience to make a difference to teenagers. There is no denying that to effect change takes time, energy and potentially the creation of a few more grey hairs but I know there are many out there who can be that family but who have not yet come forward.
A common thing I am told by foster carers is that they waited a long time to enquire about fostering from that first point when they started thinking about it. Many of them, once fostering, say they should have done it earlier. So if you are thinking about fostering why not contact us by phone, email or live chat and let us answer your questions and point you in the right direction :o)
Head of Placements & Recruitment