Campaign to recruit foster carers in Lancashire
Lancashire County Council is supporting Foster Care Fortnight and recruiting new carers, just like Kelly Pritchard, to show #WhyWeCare.
Foster Care Fortnight is the UK’s biggest foster care awareness raising campaign, delivered by fostering charity The Fostering Network. The campaign runs until Sunday May 23.
Kelly, who has been a foster carer with the county council for nearly two years, has filmed a video for the Fostering Network, to support the #WhyWeCare national fostering campaign.
Kelly wanted to offer her home to a child or young person, and this has not only transformed the life of the young person that she now cares for, but her own as well, as she is now permanently matched with them.
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Kelly said: "The thing I really like about fostering long-term is that I have been given the opportunity to make this young person a part of my family. I can give that family kind of love, stability and safety to them, and that's making a real difference to their life."
In the video, Kelly explains the importance of fostering, and how it transforms lives.
The support that has been given to foster carers during the pandemic is an important theme of Foster Care Fortnight.
This has been reinforced by Edwina Grant OBE, Lancashire County Council s Executive Director Education and Children’s Services.
Edwina said: "I was pleased to be able to film a video and to provide a blog, to showcase the commitment, passion and dedication of varied people who can actually change the future for children and young people by their actions.
"Our foster carers here in Lancashire are incredible. They have demonstrated this every day during the pandemic with the vital support that they have been giving to our children and young people.
"We are committed to supporting our foster carers every step of the way, and in order to do this we have recently introduced some new initiatives so that we can provide even more support and guidance for new foster carers, to help them carry out their vital role.
"We were all in unchartered territory, and our amazing foster carers certainly rose to the challenge, so we need to do all we can do help them to care for our children and young people."
Kevin Williams, Chief Executive of The Fostering Network, said: "Foster carers have accomplished incredible things every day throughout this last year. In the face of a global crisis that has affected every one of us and impacted all aspects of our society, they have worked tirelessly for the children that they bring into their homes. Foster carers have supported children and young people’s education, health, and social wellbeing, and they have also helped to maintain the children’s relationships with the people who are important to them, either through face to face contact or virtually when it has not been safe to meet with others.
"Despite the practical and emotional challenges that the pandemic has brought, foster carers have continued to provide day-to-day support, love and stability to children and young people who can’t live with their birth families – and from the bottom of my heart, I thank them.
"Being a foster carer is to take on a role like no other, so if you are looking for a new lifestyle or career in the aftermath of this dreadful pandemic and you believe you have the right skills, I want you to consider becoming a foster carer."
The initiatives that have been set up in Lancashire include a Foster Care Academy, to support new carers from their initial application and through their first year of looking after a child or young person. Through this academy, new foster carers will benefit from a thorough induction programme to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need.
A mentoring scheme has also been established. New foster carers are now allocated a mentor from the later stages of the assessment process to the end of their first year of fostering. Mentors will provide consistent and experienced support and be someone that the new foster carer can turn to.
Fostering communities are also being piloted in five areas of Lancashire, Burnley and Pendle, north Lancashire, Chorley and West Lancashire, central Lancashire, and Hyndburn, Rossendale, and Ribble Valley. These involve very experienced foster carers, supervised by staff from the fostering team, offering peer support to a small group of carers. This support will be provided to foster carers with a limited network of family and friends.
A wellbeing activity programme is currently being developed. This will support foster carers, their families and children to access reduced or free opportunities and activities, and all new carers now benefit from a welcome fee of £1,000 after they have fostered a child for 2 months.
Caring for vulnerable children is one of Lancashire County Council's highest priorities, and its fostering team are available 24/7 to offer support and advice.
Foster carers also have access to their own social worker, a dedicated helpline and flexible training that is local to where they live.
There is also a generous allowance for new foster carers, who can expect to receive between £250 and £428 per week for each child they care for.
Lancashire County Council welcomes new foster carers from all different backgrounds.
Foster carers need to be over 21 and have a spare room available by the end of the assessment process.
Online information events for people thinking about fostering during Foster Care Fortnight will be held on Wednesday May 19, from 6pm to 8pm. Staff will be available from the fostering recruitment team, as well as foster carers. At the event, there will be a brief talk to outline the process, which will be followed by a Q and A session.
Fostering surgeries will also be held on:
Monday May 17, from 2pm to 4pm
Thursday May 20 from 10am to noon
More information about these events will be available on the website and posted on social media.
To find out more visit here or call our friendly team on 0300 123 6723.
The videos and blog are available at thefosteringnetwork.org.uk and www.lancashire.gov.uk/fostering.