Every 20 minutes across the UK a child comes into care in need of a foster family. In this area alone, latest official figures show that 375 children are in care with Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council.*
Foster Care Fortnight is the national campaign to raise the profile of fostering. It takes place from Monday 16 May 2016 to Sunday 29 May 2016.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, Councillor Ann McCoy, enthuses about the national campaign: “Foster Care Fortnight gives us the opportunity to focus on, and celebrate, the incredible work of our foster carers in the Borough. It’s also a time to encourage others to think about being foster carers, and inspire them to explore the possibilities of giving a child a new start in life. It’s a rewarding and demanding role, but many of our carers say fostering is the best step they’ve ever taken.”
All kinds of children need foster families. And Stockton-on-Tees needs all kinds of people to foster. But like the rest of the UK, the Borough’s greatest need is for foster carers of older children, sibling groups, disabled children and unaccompanied asylum seeking children. Nationally 9,070 new foster families are needed in the next 12 months alone*.
It’s important that foster carers have the right skills and qualities to look after children who are separated from their own families, and have often experienced abuse or neglect. But some people may rule themselves out of fostering before even making an enquiry. Yet in actual fact, foster carers may be single, married or divorced, in a same-sex or heterosexual relationship, employed or unemployed, a parent or not, male or female. They will also need a spare bedroom, a commitment to helping children and young people, and a commitment to training.
Foster carer Lou Whitehouse has fostered more than 40 children from Stockton-on-Tees. She says: “During my foster carer training, I was scared at the thought of fostering teenagers. However, as my son grew into a teenager, I learnt new parenting skills. Many people think teenagers are naughty and difficult. This couldn’t be more false. Like any person, if you treat them with respect, they’ll respect you back.”
The first step for anyone interested in fostering is to talk to Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council. Visit their stand at Billingham Library on Friday 27 May 2016, 11am – 2pm, for an informal chat with a member of the Council’s Child Placement Team. Alternatively telephone 01642 526218 for an information pack.