Who can foster? Wiltshire Council tours the county to encourage more carers to come forward
Two years ago the council started a campaign to recruit 100 additional foster carers by spring 2023
"I'm too old."
"I've got my own children so I can't foster."
"I'm a single parent."
Wiltshire Council often hears these concerns when people want to foster but are worried they aren't suitable.
Now the council fostering team is using Foster Care Fortnight to tour the county chatting to local residents to help dispel those myths.
Foster Care Fortnight begins on Monday 9 May and during the fortnight, the team will travel around Wiltshire, joining markets and setting up on High Streets for people who want to hear more about fostering for Wiltshire Council. The council is non-profit making and helps keep children local.
There will also be a coffee morning 'drop in' to chat to foster carers from 11am to 2pm on Saturday 21 May at Coffee #1 Trowbridge, and an online information session on Tuesday 24 May at 7pm on this link - https://bit.ly/3kkec6F.
Two years ago the council started a campaign to recruit 100 additional foster carers by spring 2023. So far 61 additional fostering families have joined the council and the quest continues to find more. Fostering with a local council means all money is spent on frontline services and the child is more likely to be able to stay close to their school, friends and family networks.
The tour will stop at areas including Salisbury, Melksham, Bradford on Avon, Warminster, Marlborough, Royal Wootton Bassett and Westbury.*
Selina, one of the Wiltshire Council foster carers joined the launch of the Foster Care Fortnight initiative as the fostering van "Urbie" was decorated and made ready to go on tour. Along with her husband Justin she has fostered for five years.
She explained: "I really wish we'd done it sooner. It's been lovely to give them a safe place and boundaries. These children have had a bit of a rough time and to give them this stability and to watch them grow has been amazing. We've really embraced our fostering journey and I'm so glad that we took the plunge and we did it."
Single foster carer Ruth has been registered as a solo carer for 10 years. She explained: "I've always had support to care for children with lots of different needs. My supervising social worker gets to know me and the children I care for and they are always around if I need help or to answer a question. If she's not around there's a duty team and an out of hours team I can speak to. I also get support from other carers. Wiltshire has a very good and comprehensive training programme which covers a range of relevant subjects. There are also many other areas of support provided by other professionals, from health and education.
"Being a foster carer isn't an easy job but it is the most rewarding lifestyle and I wouldn't change it for the world."
Cllr Peter Hutton, Portfolio for Safeguarding said: "We are incredibly grateful to all our amazing foster carers who make a difference to our young people in care every single day. We know there are more people out there thinking - I can't do that because I'm too old or I already have children. This doesn't stop you fostering. We can talk to you and explain how you can foster and there is no obligation attached. We hope that by getting out and about in Wiltshire we will encourage people to think again, come and talk to us or just give us a call to find out more."
Foster carers need to be over 21 years of age, have a spare bedroom, time to care for a child and a willingness to care and seek to understand young people who have experienced trauma and loss.
People who foster with Wiltshire Council are given training and continued support. Payments reflect the commitment carers are making to the role and have recently been increased. There are different fostering schemes available ranging from £357 to £663 a week, depending on people's skills and experience.
For more information, visit Fostering Wiltshire, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call 0800 169 6321 or text the word Foster to 60002.