Fostering through challenging times
The need for more foster carers in Wirral hasn’t stopped in light of the current health crisis, with many children still needing loving homes.
This is the message from Wirral Council ahead of Foster Care Fortnight which runs from 11- 24 May.
The council's fostering team is still recruiting foster carers and processing new applications during this time. Although they can’t see potential new foster carers face to face right now, they have responded rapidly to the situation and have utilised technology through online methods.
Current applications are being progressed virtually, with the final Fostering Assessment now also taking place online. The council has received a significant number of inquiries over the last few weeks, and 18 potential new foster carers are currently being assessed. But there is always a need for more foster carers, for both short and long-term placements.
Beverley Hurst, Head of Service Integrated Provision for Children's Services explains about the current changes:
“Firstly, let me thank our current foster carers - they have responded brilliantly to the existing health crisis, but I never expected anything less. Year-round they provide support, guidance and loving homes for many of our youngsters needing a short-term or long-term foster family. I can’t thank them enough.
“But there is always a need for more foster carers and we are still able to take new applications. We can arrange virtual meetings to answer any questions you may have. Many of our foster carers tell us they thought about fostering for ages before getting in touch, I would urge anyone who has been thinking about it to contact us.”
All of Wirral’s foster carers receive help, guidance and training right from the start and throughout their fostering career. Since April 2019, 25 new foster carers have applied and successfully gone through the approvals process to become foster carers with Wirral Council.
Support for current carers and looked after children has also moved to a virtual support offer. Child assessments take place through a new online system, and a network of virtual meetings for our carers and social workers is also being established."
Discussing how the Fostering Service has responded to the Coronavirus, Beverley adds:
“My team has amazed me, they responded immediately by making changes to the way we work so we could continue to provide this vital service. We have set up virtual meetings between families, when a care order permits, and ensured that the technology and guidance was provided to do this securely. Protecting our children and young people in Wirral is what drives us all.”
All foster carers have the ongoing support of a social worker. They also have the support of other foster carers, the option for a peer mentor, and access to a network for children of foster carers. Children also have their own social worker.
During the lockdown period this support hasn't stopped. The fostering teams have dropped off activity packs for children and are keeping in regular contact with carers, providing them with the latest guidance and resources.
Foster placements are needed for many reasons and carers are needed for young children, teenagers, siblings and for children with special needs. What they all have in common is they just need a home and support
Wirral's foster carers come from all different backgrounds. So whether it’s the very first time you’ve thought it about it or the hundredth, or if you've inquired before but the time wasn't right, there are lots of young people in Wirral looking for loving carers just like you. We need to recruit more foster carers than ever before – do you have the heart?
To find out more about fostering in Wirral visit: www.wirral.gov.uk/fostering