Council bosses in Staffordshire and Cheshire make call for foster care heroes

Local authorities in Staffordshire and Cheshire are urging people considering fostering to come forward.

Stoke-on-Trent City Council is making an urgent call to recruit new foster carers, especially during the current coronavirus pandemic, as the authority prepares to begin a carefully considered recovery plan.

There is a huge need for more foster carers in Stoke-on-Trent with 932 cared for children currently in the city and sadly the result of the coronavirus pandemic could lead to more children needing foster homes.

The city council is now marking Foster Care Fortnight as part of its recruitment drive. It already supports almost 300 fostering families across the city, but urgently needs to recruit more carers to help to provide children with loving homes and keep them in the area where they live with familiar surroundings.

Councillor Abi Brown, leader of the city council, said: “The need to find foster carers and loving homes for children remains very high.

"The coronavirus situation has caused disruption to many of our services, but we're still recruiting new foster carers, and need their support just as much as ever.

"We're also asking people who have fostered before to think about whether they could lend a hand in case of more demand being placed on the system as the pandemic continues.

“Now more than ever we are urging those who might have been thinking about fostering for a while, or those who may not have previously considered it but feel they can offer a loving home, to begin the process now. 

"We are committed to supporting vulnerable children and we want to ensure that we give all our cared for children and young people the best possible start.

“There really is no typical foster carer. Anyone can come forward and make such a big difference in a child’s life regardless of age, gender, religious or cultural background, sexual orientation or if you are married, single or divorced.

"Our friendly team will be more than happy to talk you through the process step-by-step.”

Across the rest of the county almost 400 foster families in Staffordshire provide a loving and stable home to around 700 children and young people every day, and this commitment from families is ongoing during the coronavirus outbreak.

As part of the national campaign, a series of online information events and videos from foster carers sharing their experiences of fostering will run throughout the fortnight.

Staffordshire County Council’s Fostering Service needs to recruit around 60 families this year and anyone who thinks they might have the skills and experience is being urged to get in touch.

Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council said: “Foster carers accomplish incredible things every day, even in the face of a global crisis like Coronavirus which is affecting every one of us. 

"But, despite the extra challenges that this presents, they continue to provide day-to-day support, love and stability to children who can’t live with their birth families.

“Foster carers support children and young people’s education, health, and social wellbeing, and also help to maintain the children’s relationships with the people who are important to them but who they cannot currently see in person.

“Foster Care Fortnight is a fantastic opportunity to celebrate the work of all our foster families and I would like to thank them personally for the amazing difference they make to children’s lives.

“We do have an urgent need for more foster carers, so if it’s something you are considering please get in touch with the team.”

 In East Cheshire there are 534 cared for children in the borough and the reality is, that there may be more children needing our support when lockdown ends.

Their theme for this year’s campaign is ‘This is Fostering’. The main focus is to highlight the real-life achievements of those involved in foster care.

As part of Cheshire East’s contribution to that cause, using #FCF20, the council is posting a personal story from our foster carers every day on social media over the fortnight to celebrate the exceptional work they do.

Councillor Kathryn Flavell, Cheshire East Council cabinet member for children and families, said: “The need to find loving homes for children is still very great and there is no better time to be asking for the support of new foster carers than during Foster Care Fortnight.”

“I know that it is a lot more difficult this year with people’s thoughts understandably on the impact of coronavirus but we need to be ready to provide much needed support to children when lockdown can be eased.

“That work has to start now, as the process of becoming a foster carer is very thorough.

"Anyone interested in this very rewarding career should definitely talk to us today.

“The most important thing about being a foster carer is the person’s dedication to providing a loving, safe place for our children to live.

"We welcome applications from single carers, same sex couples, people with disabilities, all ethnic backgrounds and ages and from all nationalities.”

Foster Care Fortnight is the UK’s biggest foster care awareness raising campaign, delivered by fostering charity The Fostering Network.

It takes place between Monday 11 May and Sunday 24 May.

If you would like to know more about becoming a foster carer in Stoke-on-Trent then why not start your fostering journey by visiting www.stoke.gov.uk/fostering or calling 01782 234555.

The authority also has some virtual events taking place over the fortnight to give people an insight into being a foster carer, including:

Virtual coffee/tea morning on the city council’s fostering Facebook page on Thursday, May 14 at 10.30am with a foster carer and social worker to answer any question.

Facebook Live chat on the city council’s Facebook page on Tuesday, May 19 with Councillor Abi Brown, leader of the city council, and Gill Guy-Edwards, the council’s strategic manager for corporate parenting. The time will be advertised beforehand.

For more information on fostering with Staffordshire County Council visit www.care4child.org.

People can also view the online information events and videos at Facebook.com/staffsfosterandadopt

If you would like to know more about becoming a foster carer in Cheshire East then please contact us by email at fostering@cheshireeast.gov.uk or by calling 01925 444100.

You can also visit www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/fostering to get information about fostering.

Foster Care Fortnight is run by an organisation called The Fostering Network.

To understand more about the work they do and to donate to the cause, please visit https://www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/fcf20

More from Local