Could you be a foster carer?

THERE are c 434 children in care in Wiltshire, and more foster families are needed to help provide a safe and secure home for youngsters who can’t live with their parents.

About 77 per cent of children currently in the care of Wiltshire Council are being looked after by the county’s 225 fostering families, and the council is taking to the roads in a bid to recruit 50 more families over the coming year.

The council is taking fostering recruitment campaign to the road with six of its vans advertising for people to come forward and foster. Families are particularly needed who can take in teenagers, two or more brothers and sisters so they can stay together, and children with disabilities.

Laura Mayes, the council’s cabinet member for children services, said: “There may be people out there who have thought about fostering but haven’t taken that next step. We want them to come forward, contact us and help us care for our local children.

“There is no such thing as a typical foster carer - we need all sorts of people from different backgrounds, including religious and cultural backgrounds, to come forward to care for young people. “There are all sorts of children who need care on a short or longer term basis – from newborn babies to teenagers. We want to have enough foster carers so that we can find the right family for every child who needs one.”

Children needing foster care have parents who can’t care for their children for many reasons. This may be due to physical or mental ill health, drug or alcohol problems, family breakdown or relationship difficulties, or a lack of parenting skills. In many cases children have been neglected or abused. Foster carers are needed who can:

• Look after children of all ages 24/7 for several months while problems at home are sorted out and decisions are made about what should happen to the children.

• Care for older children, who can’t return home, long term into their adulthood.

• Provide short breaks to give families who are struggling much needed support, these are often children with disabilities or challenging behaviour.

Foster carers can be single people, male or female, or couples. They can be people with or without their own children.

They can be full time stay at home parents, people on benefits or people who work, they can be people who own their own homes or rent.

Wiltshire Council and the fostering team support foster carers from their first contact to expressing an interest in fostering throughout their fostering career.

Foster carers have their own support worker, dedicated childcare workers including psychotherapists, health and education professionals, opportunities to meet with other foster carers at support groups and a comprehensive and exciting training pathway to develop carers skills and resilience.

Foster carers receive a competitive fostering allowance to ensure finances aren’t a barrier.

Anyone interested in becoming a foster carer can call 0800 169 6321 or email the fostering team at fostering@wiltshire.gov.uk.

More information can be found at wiltshire.gov.uk/fostering.

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