Help avert fostering crisis

NORTHUMBERLAND residents who have time to care and a room to spare are being urged to look into becoming foster carers.

The number of children in care who need foster homes has risen for five years in a row.

There is also an ageing foster carer population and around 14 per cent of the workforce retire or leave every year.

And following the Fostering Network’s announcement that at least 8,750 new foster families need to be found across the UK in the next 12 months to avoid a crisis in foster care, Northumberland County Council has announced that the service is looking for at least 35 new carers in 2012. Without these extra families, many children will have to settle for a compromise situation.

This might mean living with a foster carer who is a long way from the child’s home, school and family, or who does not have space for their brothers and sisters, or even living in residential care when fostering has been identified as the right option.

Patsy Bull, Northumberland County Council’s interim fostering team manager, said: “There are lots of different types of foster care that people can offer children and young people.

“We are particularly seeking interest from people who have work experience of supporting children or vulnerable adults with challenging behaviour who will consider working at home as a foster carer, caring for children on a long or short-term basis.”

Northumberland has the most urgent need for people to offer the following types of fostering placements: long-term care for children aged over seven years old, parent and child (usually mother and baby) placements, placements for teenagers where carers would support them in education and prepare them for independence and respite or short breaks for children aged 10 and over.

Foster carers working in the county receive a weekly fee plus an allowance per child, paid holidays, a dedicated supervising social worker and 24-hour telephone support as well as the benefits of being part of the wider children’s services teams.

A free and comprehensive training package is also available for carers to develop their childcare skills, including attainment of the national Training, Support and Development Standards qualification. Different foster care schemes exist to suit the variety of carer working preferences, skills, family circumstances, and experience.

For more information, telephone the Northumberland Foster Care Team on 01670 534450 or visit www.northumberland.gov.uk/fostering