Suffolk Fostering and Adoption dispels common assumptions in drive to support county’s children

Foster carer Gary Peck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Foster carer Gary Peck Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN - Credit: Archant

Fostering services in Suffolk have revealed that 25 new foster carers are needed each year for 11+ children alone, as more are encouraged to consider fostering.

Suffolk Fostering and Adoption, which is run by the county council, aims to encourage people to consider fostering no matter what their circumstances may be.

The team is aiming to dispel many of the assumptions surrounding who can and cannot be a carer, and raise awareness for the different types of fostering available.

Claire Gwatkin, practice manager with Suffolk Fostering and Adoption, said: “As a local authority we want Suffolk children to stay within Suffolk so they are looked after in their local networks, and as closely as possible.

“They need some continuity while the issues are happening within their family.”

She added: “11+ is the main group – we need to be growing that by 25 placements a year, and these are placements that don’t take into account other ages.”

The team said that each foster parents’ reasons for wanting to get involve vary – whether it is the inability of some to have children or ‘emptiness syndrome’ from parents whose children have grown up and left home.

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Each child’s circumstances are also highly unique, whether it is as a result of health problems for family members or safeguarding issues.

Gary Peck has been fostering for a number of years with his wife Caroline, and is now an ambassador with the fostering service.

“It’s challenging, but very, very rewarding,” he said.

“These children come to us with quite a bit of baggage but you need to support them and let them know that you will be there for them.”

The team regularly encounters people who do not even consider fostering because they may work full time or be single which they assume prevents them from being able to, but a host of options exist including short-term and emergency fostering – fostering for a day or two to give parents and carers a break.

The process of finding out more information and applying is also fully supported by the team, and separate networks of other foster parents and carers.

Louise Rhodes, family support practitioner added: “It’s incredibly important – Suffolk children need Suffolk families, and the more people we can have come forward the better it will be for the children.”

To find out more call 01473 264800 or visit the website here.