AS Foster Care Fortnight gets under way (10-23 May), Somerset County Council is appealing for more people to come forward and share their homes and lives with children who desperately need a new beginning.
Theo’s Story, that features on the newly relaunched Fostering in Somerset website, shows how fostering can open a new chapter in a child’s life with the support of foster carers.
At just 40 seconds long, the short animation tells the tale of a little bear, lost and lonely as he wanders through the woods, until one day everything changed.
The video is part of Fostering In Somerset’s ‘change a child’s story’ campaign which aims to not only highlight the difference foster carers can make to the lives of vulnerable young people, but also raise awareness for the very real and urgent need for more foster carers in Somerset.
Cllr Frances Nicholson, Lead Member for Children’s Services, said: “With more than 500 children in care and about 200 in-house foster carers, Somerset just doesn’t have enough foster carers to meet need.
“The response to our appeals for foster carers is always encouraging, but there are still many children who need a safe and stable home.”
There’s a particular need for carers for teenagers and children over the age of ten – and there’s a wealth of information available on the Fostering in Somerset website with information ranging from training to allowances.
Jane, a county council foster carer looking after three teenagers, said: “Fostering teenagers is really rewarding, as well as challenging. Their emotions are so diverse. They can be vulnerable, knowledgeable, loud, quiet.
“They will need your care and attention one minute and want to be treated as adults the next. Their banter and sense of humour keeps you young, and I’ve learnt lots of new words and been introduced to new programmes through my teenage foster children.
“I’ve learnt from them as much as they have from me. But through all that, it really is one of the best feelings when you watch that teenager grow into an independent young person, happy and able to take care of themselves. Through fostering, you can provide a really good foundation for these young people. “
Foster carers must be over 21 (with no upper age limit) and have a spare room in their home. What is important is attracting people who want to make a difference for children. In return, foster carers receive a weekly fee and allowance for each child in their care, plus a dedicated supervising social worker and on-going training and support.
An online information session via Zoom for those interested in fostering is taking place on May 26 from 7.30pm-9pm. The fostering team will give an overview and answer questions. Foster carers will also be attending to give a first-hand view of what fostering entails.
Details of the event and the zoom link to join can be found in the events section of the website here or on the Facebook page @fosteringinsomerset.
To find out more visit www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk or call 0800 587 9900, Facebook @fosteringinsomerset or Twitter @fostersomerset