Foster carers needed to help change a future
People across the county are being urged to consider fostering a child in need this Foster Care Fortnight, as around 130 new foster carers are needed in Gloucestershire over the next three years.
Foster Care Fortnight runs 13-26 May and is the UK’s biggest campaign to raise awareness of the need for more foster carers. This year’s theme is #changeafuture, and Gloucestershire County Council is encouraging people across the county to find out how they could change a child’s future by providing a stable home.
In the past year, there were 883 fostering placement requests for children in care. The county council needs to recruit a minimum of 40 foster carers this year alone to meet the demand for placements.
Aiden (age 18) went into foster care six years ago. He said: “Being in foster care has changed my life because it has given me a platform on which I can build my future. When I lived at home it wasn’t the place where I felt I could go further in life… but coming into care, I realised I could pretty much do whatever I liked; it gave me a platform to go to uni, which I’m doing, it gave me a platform to explore what I wanted to do with my future. I didn’t know if I wanted to go into computer science or social work, and I was able to explore that because I was in a stable home – because I was in a loving family – because I was in foster care.”
Henry (age 19) is the birth child of a fostering family and agrees that fostering has changed his future and his outlook on life: “Being part of a family that fosters for the past 11 to 12 years has been really impactful for me… It has made me more mature and it’s given me so much knowledge, for my own benefit but also for the benefit of others, especially for those who need help. Sometimes I’ll come in and help the young children as well, so all the knowledge I’ve gained has helped turn me into a better person. It’s turned me into a person that wants to help and there needs to be more people like that, and there needs to be more people who foster.
“We’ve had a few people that have been in that have looked at me as their brother and that’s the main thing that stands out compared to everything else. Meeting someone for the first time and then a couple of years down the line thinking of them as your brother and them calling you their brother is an absolutely amazing feeling, because a family is meant to care and a family helps each other out and that’s what we do. I’m proud to be part of a fostering family.”
Cllr Richard Boyles, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “We believe there are lots of people in the county who would like to help, and there are different types of fostering available that people might not know about, from long-term fostering to emergency fostering and respite care. It typically takes between six and eight months to become a foster carer, so I would encourage anyone who thinks they could provide a stable and loving home for a child to take the first step and get in touch with us today.”
Gloucestershire County Council accepts applications to foster from all sectors of the community. There is no upper age limit to foster and people can be single, married, co-habiting, in a heterosexual or same sex relationship, own or rent their home. Applicants need to be over 21 and have a spare room (or spare rooms for siblings) in their home.
The Gloucestershire Fostering Team is holding a fostering open day at Gloucester Guildhall on Saturday 18 May from 10am-3pm. Pop in for a chat or contact the team for more information on 01242 532654 or go to www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/fostering.