Do something incredible - campaign launched for Cheshire West and Chester's children waiting for foster places

12 September 2016

A region-wide recruitment campaign launched today (Monday) will highlight the need for more than 700 new local authority fostering households, and invite local people to do something incredible.

Cheshire West and Chester Council is one of 23 local authorities backing the #youcanfoster campaign which aims to address the North West's fostering goals. 

Local authority professionals behind the campaign want to dispel some of the out-dated misconceptions about children in foster care as well as those around who is eligible to foster - and attract more people to step forward and find out more. 

Across England around 52,000 children and young people are in foster placements, 9,000 of them in the North West. Around 3,400 families foster for their local authority.* 

Securing a stable home environment for foster children is vital if they are to have the best chances in life and realise their ambitions. The campaign launched today is aimed at replacing foster carers leaving due to retirement and natural turnover, combined with an increase in the numbers of looked after children. 

Cheshire West and Chester currently has 493 children and young people within its care. The local authority was keen to lend its support to the campaign and urge local people and families to step forward and find out more.

Cllr Nicole Meardon said: "Every child and young person within our care deserves the best start in life, so it's important to us as a council to be a part of the ‘You Can Foster' campaign raising awareness of the need to recruit more local authority foster carers across the North West.

"We aim to provide every child in Cheshire West and Chester with a safe, stable and loving home in which to thrive, providing them with the opportunity to reach their full potential and to grow into happy and healthy citizens of our borough" Nikki from Blacon, who with her husband Algie has supported more than 15 children in the last six years as foster carers, through day care support, respite, emergency, short or long term fostering said: 

"Soon after my husband and I met we decided we'd like to become foster carers. Initially starting out as short term carers, we also offered day care support to children too. Since then we have undertaken some respite and emergency foster placements when we've had space and have now become long term carers to our current child. 

"Six years on, there's nothing more rewarding than seeing a child within your care, who came to you with complex needs, leaving you having achieved so much. The delight of a teenager with Dyslexia passing her GCSEs, and a young autistic boy growing into a calm funny individual, makes you realise what an amazing job this is."

Charlotte Ramsden, a Strategic Director of Children and Adults Services representing You Can Foster said: "In the UK as a whole and even just the North West, we have thousands of children who need foster care and we need more carers to provide the support and stable homes that these young people need to really thrive. 

"People have a lot of preconceived ideas about why they might be ruled out as foster carers, but the only thing that matters is the support you can offer a child. Whether you are older, single or never had children, you can foster. Foster carers don't need superpowers; they just need to be able to provide a solid and reliable foundation for children and young people to find theirs."

She added: "If you are interested in fostering then your local authority is the best place to find out more. More people turn to their local authorities than any other fostering provider. Foster carers across the North West are benefiting from the support and training they provide." 

Nikki said: "When you start out as a foster carer the pressure you put on yourself can be overwhelming but this is helped by the training available to you through the local authority, and the support of a dedicated social worker for both you as foster carers and the child in your care. Meeting other foster carers at the monthly fostering support group gave us a great opportunity to discuss any concerns we had, and to learn from others who'd been fostering for a lot longer than us. In fact we've made great friends through the network.  

I'm so proud of every child that we've been able to support and would recommend to anyone considering becoming a foster carer to contact their local authority and find out more." 

Recruitment priorities for the region include places for:
  • Brothers and sisters - including sibling groups of 3 or more children/young people. 
  • Older children/young people - over half of all looked after children are 10 or older 
  • Children from BME communities, in particular black 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 behaviour that challenges - this is an identified priority for a number of local authorities including the need for ‘short break' carers (carers providing a variety of different types of part-time care. Stays for anything from a few hours each week to a couple of weekends each month, giving their own family or their full time foster carers a break.) 
For more information on fostering visit the You Can Foster website

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