Plymouth City Council is asking local residents to guess who fosters to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers in Plymouth, as part of Foster Care Fortnight 2014.
With record numbers of children (408) coming into care, and the need to recruit at least 40 more fostering families in and around the city, the Council is asking if people have the skills to consider becoming a foster carer.
This Foster Care Fortnight is themed ‘guess who fosters’ and the campaign aims to bust myths about fostering and focus on the skills and experience needed to become a foster carer and to provide a loving home for vulnerable children.
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, and have had previous unsuccessful foster care placements.
Although this year Plymouth is encouraging new carers to come forward to take teenage placements, there is 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 can provide stable homes for the majority of children who come into care, but desperately needs to find the right foster carers to support those with the most challenging behavioural and emotional needs through the most vulnerable periods of their lives.
During Foster Care Fortnight (May 12-25), run by leading charity the Fostering Network, Council staff and carers will be out and about in key locations around the city to talk to people face to face about fostering.
Alison Barker, Service Manager for Permanency and Placements at the Council, said: “Every year we have foster carers who retire or choose 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. There are many myths about who can become a foster carer, but what really matters is a that someone has the commitment and ability to look after children separated from their own families, and to offer them a stable and secure home.”
Plymouth’s foster carers come from all walks of life and across a range of ages. Pam and Glyn Dale have been fostering for seven years. They started fostering after being urged to help vulnerable children and young people by their two sons. They were recently awarded with the Pride of Plymouth award for their commitment, something Pam says she never expected to receive. “I feel that we have received the Pride of Plymouth award on behalf of all the foster carers in the city. A lot of whom have supported us and helped us grow as foster carers. Being a foster carer is more than just looking after someone else’s children – it’s a way of life.”
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “As each year passes, we see more and more children coming into care. We need people who can open their heart, and their homes, to vulnerable children and young people who need support in reaching their full potential. A good foster carer will believe in the ambition of the children in their care in the same way they’d believe in the ambition of their own family members. A childhood is too short to waste, and foster carers can help those who haven’t had the best start begin to enjoy their life and grow into the adults that they want to be.”
Gabby Logan, television presenter and journalist, said: “I am always proud to support the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight campaign. Foster carers are incredible people who dedicate their lives to vulnerable children, but throughout the country there are still many teenagers, disabled children and sibling groups who need a loving home. If you think you have the skills to make a difference to the life of a child and help to ensure that they are on a positive path in life, contact your local fostering service this Foster Care Fortnight.”
To find out more about fostering in Plymouth, visit www.fosterforplymouth.co.uk