Cumbria County Council is calling for more people to consider becoming foster carers during Foster Care Fortnight which launched yesterday, Monday, May 11.
Delivered by leading charity, the Fostering Network, the annual campaign aims to show how foster care can transform lives and runs from Monday May 11 to Sunday May 24.
The council already supports around 200 fostering families across the county, but with more than 700 children in care in Cumbria and more children continuing to enter the care system during the coronavirus pandemic, we urgently need to recruit more carers.
There is a particular need for foster carers to look after teenagers and brothers and sisters who want to stay together, but carers for children and young people of any age are also needed.
Applicants who take up the opportunity will be helped at every step of the way by the council’s fostering service, whose team is working remotely from home to ensure foster carer assessments and training can still go ahead during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A foster carer from Maryport, who has fostered for 11 years, is backing the council’s campaign and encouraging other people to take the first step on their fostering journey during Foster Care Fortnight.
Shona Frost and her husband Alan from Maryport have been foster carers for 11 years, looking after babies and younger children.
Shona said: “We’d thought about fostering for a long time, especially as our children grew up and started leaving home one by one. I started to feel a bit redundant and lost, so while my daughter was at university and only coming home in the holidays, we decided to apply. Our only regret about fostering is that we didn’t do it sooner!
“Some of the babies we care for can be quite poorly when they first come to us and to see them recover and know you have played a part in that is really, really rewarding.
“It can be very hard when the babies ‘move on’ but we find with most of the adoptive parents we meet, they are very happy to stay in touch and we’ve gained friends, as well as family.
“We have lots of support around us; our grown up children live nearby, our support social worker is always on the other end of the phone, if we need help, and we keep in touch with other foster carers – we have our own little community which is getting bigger all the time.
“If you are thinking about fostering I would say don’t spend too much time just thinking about. Get in touch and find out if it is right for you. Don’t regret leaving it so late, like we did!”
Foster carers with Cumbria County Council receive an excellent package of support and training, generous allowances and will also be allocated an experienced foster carer to act as their mentor when they join our service.
Claire Lloyd, Service manager, Fostering & Adoption, said: “The need for foster carers remains high during the coronavirus pandemic and our teams are working really hard to ensure new foster carers can be approved quickly, while continuing to carry out thorough checks.
“Now more than ever we are urging those who may have been thinking about fostering for a while, or those who may not have previously considered it but feel they can offer a loving home, to begin the process now.”
If you would like to find out more about fostering you can call the fostering team on 0303 333 1216 or visit cumbria.gov.uk/fostering and start your fostering journey today.