Children need a kind heart to care for them

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @EmmaDunnn

SEVENTEEN children across the town are looking for kind people to foster them.

The figure has been announced after the Fostering Network revealed that at least 600 new foster families are needed in the south west during 2013 to look after children in care who need to be fostered.

Swindon Council’s family placement team is hoping at least 20 more carers will sign up to help them meet the demand in Swindon.

Graham Senior, family placement team manager, said: “We are not going to distance ourselves from that 600 figure – we would like a proportion of those foster carers.

“We need to find foster carers who are appropriate for each child. It is never just a straight numbers game.”

The family placement team has about 145 approved foster carers and about 256 children are in the care of Swindon Council.

Between January last year and January this year they approved 34 new foster families but lost 14 due to various reasons, including retirement.

There are now a record 5,450 children living with foster families in the south west, with many more coming in and out of care throughout the year. More foster families are needed to replace the 13 per cent of the workforce in the south west who retire or leave every year.

Graham said: “Our door is wide open to anybody who thinks they might like to foster. What we are interested in is their parenting skills and their ability to empathise with children who for whatever reason can’t live with their own family.

“If we had a pool of about 20 more carers than we have at the moment we would feel comfortably placed, but we have to recruit more than that because not all carers do it as a lifetime career.

“We currently have 17 children who we are looking for placements for. They are not in unsafe places at the moment, it just means we are searching for the carers that have best got the skills and experience to meet their particular needs.

“It could be respite care for short-term breaks or they might need permanent foster homes.”

A shortage of foster carers means some children have to live too far from family and friends, change school and be split up from siblings.

Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “These children need a stable family life to help them grow and achieve their potential. By becoming a foster carer, people can help them have the best possible opportunity for a positive future, to do well at school and be successful in later life.”

For more information about becoming a foster carer, call the family placement team on 01793 465700 or email familyplacement@swindon.gov.uk

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