Suffolk/Essex: Foster Care Fortnight urges people to come forward and care for a vulnerable older child
PUBLISHED: 10:51 14 May 2014 | UPDATED: 10:51 14 May 2014
People in Suffolk and Essex are being urged to consider caring for an older child as part of the annual Foster Care Fortnight.
Foster carers and senior councillors in the counties have joined forces to encourage people to sign up to fostering services as the Fostering Network’s national campaign, which raises awareness of the shortage of foster carers, gets under way.
In Suffolk, around 720 children are in care, with more than half aged 11 or over. A recruitment drive in Essex is seeking to employ another 100 foster carers.
Both Suffolk and Essex county councils say they are committed to placing all cared-for children with registered foster carers so they can enjoy stable and fulfilling childhoods.
Foster carers can provide care on a short-term basis while permanent plans are made for children to return home to a birth family, to an adoptive family or another permanent foster family.
Carers can also provide care on a long-term or permanent basis where the child will be fully part of the carer’s family for the remainder of their childhood and throughout their adult life.
The majority of the 120 children that are currently not placed with Suffolk County Council foster carers are children over the age of 11, sibling groups or disabled children.
Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services at the authority, admitted some people may be reluctant to offer care to teenagers amid concerns of how they will cope and the challenges that it would bring.
“However those interested can rest assured that we will provide the local training and support needed, including someone being available 24/7,” he said.
“There are many foster carers and groups who can provide extra support and advice throughout the county, as well as fostering events and monthly newsletters so you can feel part of the Suffolk fostering community.
“Fostering is extremely rewarding, and I encourage all those who have an interest to do the right thing – come forward, contact the service and consider your options.”
In Essex, some 100 foster carers are needed. The county council is appealing for carers for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups of three or more.
Children and young people in foster care have overcome “many challenges” in their lives and will need lots of support and understanding, said Dick Madden, Essex County Council’s cabinet member for children’s services.
He said: “Foster Care Fortnight is about challenging the stereotypes about who can and can’t foster and encouraging people of all backgrounds and skills to come forward. If you are interested in finding out more about fostering then call in to one of our many events for a chat and meet some of our existing carers.”
All foster carers receive full training, on-going support and a generous package of allowances and fees. Foster carers can be single or in a heterosexual or same sex partnership. You need a stable home but it can be rented.
No particular qualifications are necessary but foster carers will need to be available before and after school as well as in the school holidays (unless providing respite care only).
Call Suffolk County Council’s Fostering Service on 0800 328 2148 or visit www.suffolkfostering.com.
Call Essex County Council’s Fostering Service on 0800 801 530 or visit www.essex.gov.uk/fostering.
Suffolk County Council’s fostering team will be at the following places this month offering further information:
Tesco Superstore, Cedars Link Road, Stowmarket: 10am-2pm, today (May 14).
Ipswich Library, Northgate Street, Ipswich: 10am-2pm, May 21.
Zipwire MTFC, 4 Airey Close, Lowestoft: 12noon-6pm, May 21.
Sainsburys Superstore, Felixstowe Road, Ipswich: 10am-2pm, May 23.
Essex County Council is holding recruitment events across the county, including:
Miami Hotel, Princes Road, Chelmsford at 11am on Saturday.
Essex House, Colchester Business Park, 200 The Crescent at 11am on May 24.
Experienced foster carers will also be available for informal talks at information stands at:
Chelmsford Town Centre, today (May 14).
Clacton Leisure Centre in Vista Road tomorrow (May 15).
Clacton Community Voluntary Service Office on Friday.
Colchester Waitrose in St Andrews Avenue on May 20.