Friday, February 02, 2018
Lancashire County Council is keen to dispel some common myths about becoming a foster carer, to encourage people to come forward to help local children for whom life hasn't been easy.
As the latest figures show that around 20 Lancashire children are coming into care each week and needing urgent foster care placements, many individuals or couples who could make great foster carers are sometimes put off by myths about eligibility.
The majority of children looked after by the county council are cared for in foster homes. Many of them remain in care for some time, and there's a need to rule out any pre-conceived ideas to attract local people and families to come forward and find out more.
County Councillor Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: "We've highlighted some of the myths about becoming a foster carer on social media, as part of the ongoing promotion to recruit new foster carers. Lots of people are concerned that they won't be able to foster for one reason or another, so we thought it would be useful to point out some of the questions we get asked, to bust the myths.
"It's quite common for people to ask if they are too young or old to be a foster carer, or that they can't foster because they don't own their own home, or because of many other reasons.
"The reality is that fostering is open to people from a wide variety of backgrounds. For example, carers must be over 21 but there is no upper age limit, and it doesn't matter to us whether a carer owns their own home or is a tenant in rented accommodation. What is actually important to us is that you can provide the support and stable home that these children and young people need to really thrive.
"Some potential foster carers think that they simply can't afford the extra expense of caring for another child or children, but we have increased our allowances to new foster carers in recognition of their valuable role in providing loving homes for the children in our care.
"There are many people who think that there might be a barrier to them becoming a foster carer, when the reality is that there is probably no reason that they can't. I'd like to encourage people to find out more."
Councillor Charles added, "Becoming a foster carer is a big decision, and we don't suggest anyone takes it lightly. But if anyone is wondering whether it might be for them, they can have a chat with our friendly staff without feeling pressurised or obligated in any way.
"In Lancashire, we are currently looking after 1,923 children and we are always looking for new foster carers to come forward. The greatest need is for foster carers for older children, sibling groups and children with additional needs."
The county council is looking for people who can foster all ages of children, particularly siblings who need to stay together, and teenagers. No formal experience or qualifications are needed, all you need is a spare room available and a desire to make a difference to a local child's life.
New foster carers can expect to receive between £241 and £300 per week for each child they care for.
People who have considered fostering before, but weren't sure they could afford it, are advised to come along to an information evening and find out if it could now be a viable option.
Here are some popular myth busters:
• You don't need any formal experience or qualifications
• You can foster if you have your own children
• You can foster if you are single, married, divorced or cohabiting
• You need to be over 21, but there is no upper limit
• It doesn't matter if you own your home or are renting
• You can work full time or part time, or not at all
• It doesn't matter if you are living with a disability
• Smokers can foster, but we expect you not to smoke around children or in the home or car
• You don't need to be able to drive
• You can have pets
• You don't need to be a parent
• You don't have to be in employment
A package of support is available 24/7 to help foster carers in their role, including local support groups, their own social worker, a dedicated helpline and flexible training.
Out of hours support is available via a dedicated helpline staffed by experienced social workers. Training is flexible including during school hours, evenings and weekends and online training, and can be tailored to the needs of any child.
Recruitment priorities for Lancashire and the region include places for:
- Brothers and sisters – including sibling groups of three or more children/young people.
- Older children/young people – over half of all looked after children are 10 or older.
- Children from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, in particular black or Asian children and increasingly those from new migrant communities.
- Long term – where children and young people are not able to live with their own families for a number of years, if at all. Children and young people stay in a family where they feel secure, while maintaining contact with their birth family.
- Children with complex/additional needs including challenging behaviour.
- Parents and children together - this involves having a child or children with one or more of the parents in your home and supporting them to care for their children. This type of fostering is challenging but rewarding and the enhanced allowances offered to foster carers reflect this.
For more information about becoming a foster carer, or to find out more about the myths, call the fostering recruitment team on 0300 123 6723 or visit the website www.lancashire.gov.uk/fostering
Tagged as: Children, Education and Families