Wiltshire Council is appealing for more caring people and their families who can offer a foster home to a child who needs to be looked after.
Sometimes, for different reasons, children can no longer live safely with their parents or families and so the council has to step in to provide them with safe, nurturing homes to live in. This can be for a short time or for longer, while plans are made about what needs to happen next for the child.
Wiltshire Council has about 440 children in care at any one time. In December 2017, there were approximately 165 fostering households of all types and 185 children were living with foster carers.
The county has launched a three-year plan to find 120 new foster families so that it can care for as many looked after children as possible with Wiltshire approved foster carers. It urgently needs 36 new carers this year to keep the drive on track.
Hitting that target will help the council provide a haven for children in care who desperately need the safety and security of a loving family home.
The call coincides with Foster Care Fortnight (14-27 May), a UK campaign to find 7,000 families for children nationwide.
Laura Mayes cabinet member for children, said: ““Fostering makes a positive difference to a child’s life, and we really want to talk to people who can offer love, warmth and a positive home life.
“Fostering can transform a child’s life and help them achieve their full potential.”
In Wiltshire, while there is a real need for foster carers in general, to look after children of all ages, there is a particular need for certain kinds of foster parents:
- Parent and Child foster carers; those who can welcome into their home a struggling new parent who needs help with their baby for a limited time.
- STEPS (Short Term Emergency Placements Scheme) carers, who look after children in a short-term emergency before helping them move on to longer term placements or supporting their return home.
- Specialist carers for children with disabilities or additional needs.
- Foster carers to look after unaccompanied young people
- Supported Lodgings placements for older young people moving towards independence, those leaving care and older unaccompanied young people.
Kerry Beety has been a foster carer for seven years and has looked after about 50 children. For the last two years she has been an emergency carer, looking after children for a short time before they move on to a more permanent home.
She said: “There is such a big need for more foster carers to look after children who desperately need someone to care for them and give them a safe, warm home. It is so satisfying knowing that you can make a difference by giving a child a chance.
“I know that many people who would make brilliant foster parents have thought about it, but they’ve put it off to do it later. Maybe when their own children have grown up. My advice to them is: do it now. Make a call. Start finding out more about it. Because there are children who need you now.”
You can listen to Kerry talking about her experience of foster caring on BBC Wiltshire by visiting https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p065zj00#play, starts at 2:07:54.
To become an approved Wiltshire foster carer a person must be at least 21 and have a spare bedroom big enough for a child or young person to use. They don’t need to own their home, and foster carers can come from all kinds of backgrounds, faiths and cultures.
There is no upper age limit, and single people can be foster carers. Foster parents don’t need qualifications – training and support is provided. Foster carers receive an age-related allowance for the child they are looking after and a fee which reflects their skills and experience.
To find out more about fostering in Wiltshire visit www.wiltshire.gov.uk/fostering or phone 01225 716510 (office hours) or 0300 456 0100 (out of hours).
Our next information evenings are:
29 May, 7pm – 8pm, County Hall, Trowbridge
26 June, 7pm – 8pm, County Hall, Trowbridge
24 July, 7pm – 8pm, County Hall, Trowbridge
25 September, 7pm – 8pm, County Hall, Trowbridge
30 October, 7pm – 8pm, Five Rivers Health and Wellbeing Centre, Salisbury