A foster carer from Bath is taking the opportunity to encourage people across the local area to consider providing a home for a child in care, as part of a campaign to increase fostering placements.
It comes as Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Family Placement Team steps up its works to recruit more foster carers.
More than 190 children are currently being looked after by Bath and North East Somerset Council, and the number of children needing foster homes continues to grow.
Children and young people of all ages and from all backgrounds come into care when they are unable to live with their birth parents for a period of time.
This ranges from a few weeks, for example when a family is in a short term crisis, to long term placements with children being provided with a home and supportive family for as long as they need.
Children in care are very likely to have experienced traumatic periods in their early lives, and foster carers are trained to support children they care for.
55 year old Jacqi Meacham from Keynsham has fostered more than 30 young people over the past 16 years.
She said: “My sister was a foster carer and her experience spurred me onto wanting to give vulnerable children love, care and normality.
“It is a challenging role and you need stickability, patience, understanding and empathy to be able to guide the young person in your care and win their trust. The rewards though are greater than the difficulties and there’s 24 hour support at the end of a phone should you need it.
“It really is fantastic to watch shy and quiet children come into your family and through the love, care and support you give them blossom into an amazing young person.”
Dave Kingswood from Bath helps to recruit and support foster carers through his role as a Home for Good project worker.
The post is funded jointly by Bath & North East Somerset Council and the Genesis Trust. The Home for Good charity encourages people in the faith community to foster and adopt.
Dave said: “To be a good foster carer you have to have a big heart, have a good support network around you and be resilient. Also, you have to realise and believe that this is marathon work and not a sprint.
“When you invest in a child or young person’s life the rewards may not present today or even tomorrow, but could be years from now when they say “If it wasn’t for you sticking with me I’m not sure if I would have been OK”.
“This is the same whether you look after babies for a few nights or whether you foster long term.”
Foster carers come from all backgrounds and bring a wide range of life and work experiences. Training and support is provided to help develop the skills needed to meet the needs of children in care.
To become a foster carer you must:
- Be at least 21 years-old
- Have a spare bedroom big enough for a young person to live in
- Be a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain
- Be reasonably fit – physically and emotionally. Having a disability isn’t a barrier to fostering.
You can be of any religion or from any cultural background. Your relationship status or sexuality is also not a barrier to becoming a foster carer.
Councillor Paul May, cabinet member for Children and Young People, said: “Fostering is an incredibly rewarding journey. By becoming a foster carer you can make a real difference to children’s lives at a time when they are in need of love, care and attention.”
For anyone considering fostering Dave Kingswood has some advice: “I would say go for it. Often you can find a hundred reasons why you should not sign up but my thought always goes to the child.
“They didn’t choose their hard start to life and they need that loving home and a fresh chance to thrive. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if that was you?”
You can also contact the Family Placement Team by calling 01225 394949 or emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.