Appeal for foster carers

A MAJOR campaign is being launched to increase the number of foster carers in Essex with the county council aiming to attract 60 new recruits annually for the next eight years.

A MAJOR campaign is being launched to increase the number of foster carers in Essex with the county council aiming to attract 60 new recruits annually for the next eight years.

The campaign called Fostering - be someone who cares - is keen to attract more 'non-traditional' carers including young professionals, single men and women, the disabled, and "empty-nesters."

At present, there are around 1,270 children in care in Essex, 900 of these children are living in foster homes.

The county council organises around 4,000 placements a year, with four or five children being placed in foster care per day.


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Although there is a general shortage of foster carers, the greatest need is for carers to look after teenagers, family groups of three or more and children with disabilities.

The vast majority of children return to their own homes within six months. The average age of a foster child is 11-12 years old.

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As part of the new campaign, a series of information events will be held across Essex in April and May where people can find out more about fostering and talk to staff and existing foster carers.

Anyone can apply to become a foster carer and the county council provides training and financial support to successful applicants.

Tracey Chapman, county council cabinet member for children's services said, "Almost anyone can foster. Carers can be single or married, with or without a partner, with or without children, working or not working.

"Our carers tell us that fostering is one of the most challenging and rewarding things you can ever do. "We provide training, advice, financial help and support - but you provide the love and care."

There are several different types of fostering including short-term which is needed when a family comes under pressure for reasons such as a rift between a teenager and parent or sudden bereavement; long term - when a child is unable to live at home because parent is violent, has disappeared or is homeless; teenage specialist placement - needed for teenagers with behavioural problems such as non-attendance at school, involvement in crimes such as violence, drugs and prostitution; shared care - befriending a specific child with disabilities so they can regularly stay with foster carers, expand their social circle and give the family the opportunity of a short break from caring for them.

Anyone interested in finding out more about fostering should call Essex Fosterline on freephone 0800 801 530.

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