Plymouth City Council’s Fostering team is on a mission to find people with time, energy, motivation and a spare bedroom who are able to care for some of Plymouth’s most vulnerable young people as part of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight campaign, which is underway now until 27 May.
Foster Care Fortnight, co-ordinated by UK-wide charity the Fostering Network is an annual campaign which raises the profile of fostering and shows how foster care transforms lives.
The Fostering Network believes there are almost 55,000 foster families in the UK. With more than 12 per cent of foster carers retiring or leaving the sector every year it is estimated that fostering services across the UK need to recruit at least a further 7,180 foster families in the next year. This figure is likely to increase for the foreseeable future.
For the vast majority of children in Plymouth, a foster home can provide the stability and support needed to secure a better future. There is a particular need for foster carers to look after challenging teenagers who in many cases, have been abused or neglected by their birth parents.
Although this year the council is focussing on encouraging new carers to come forward and take teenage placements, there’s still an on-going need to recruit foster carers to take children of all ages, and people who could take on the challenge of supporting a Parent and Child Placement.
The council has built up a network of foster carers who provide stable homes for the children who come into care. They also need to find the right foster carers to support those with the most challenging behavioural and emotional needs when they are at their most vulnerable.
Pam Dale, a Foster Carer with Plymouth City Council said: “If you sit back and think about some of the children and young people have had to grow up with it is heart breaking. You have to make the effort to see beyond the mistakes and life choices some of the parents have made, as they often haven’t received good parenting themselves.”
Pam explained that the two most important things to being a foster carer are a sense of humour and access to support: “You have to have a sense of humour first and foremost. The second biggie is support, which comes from the Department, other agencies and other foster carers. Foster carers will always support foster carers. Everyone will support you.”
Andrea Powell, Service Manager for Permenancy, said: “Foster Care Fortnight is the perfect time to find out what it takes to be a modern foster carer.
“Foster carers have one of the most important roles in the community. They support local families and make a huge difference to people’s lives.
“Every year we lose a number of our foster carers due to retirement or to pursue other avenues of work, so there is a constant need to recruit new foster carers. Together with a rise in the number of children coming into care, this means we need the people of Plymouth and the surrounding areas to come forward and see if they can foster.
“Fostering is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things – there are many myths about who can become a foster carer, but what really matters is that someone has the commitment, skills and ability to look after children separated from their own families, and to offer them a stable and secure home. I urge you to look at your skills and qualities and consider whether you could be a foster carer.”
To find out more about fostering in Plymouth, visit www.fosterforplymouth.co.uk