Sefton and Knowsley unite to help siblings #StayTogether in foster families

#StayTogether will be the message as fostering services at Sefton and Knowsley Councils come together for a special recruitment drive.

In Sefton and Knowsley there are over 750 ‘looked after’ children in need of foster placements, many of them in sibling groups.

Two events will be held, allowing anyone thinking of fostering to meet experienced carers who already foster families of brothers and sisters, while also learning about the approval process, support and learning with expert teams from both local authorities.

The first event will take place at Aintree Shopping Park, Saturday January 27, 10am – 4pm, while the second event will take place at Cables Shopping Centre in Prescot, Sunday January 28, 10am- 4pm.

Cllr. John Joseph Kelly, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Families at Sefton Council, said:

“It is great to be working together with Knowsley in this innovative way. Now more than ever there is an urgent need for carers for siblings, highlighting this is so important.

“The media bus is both unique and eye catching and gives us the flexibility to get out and about into the heart of our communities. Allowing us to create a clear call to action, it encourages people from all walks of life to consider how they could make a real difference to children’s lives.”

Cllr Marie Stuart, Knowsley Council Cabinet Lead Member – Children’s Services said

“We are delighted to be working with Sefton Council on this unique Fostering Information Event.

“It’s important that we work together to encourage more families to come forward and find out more about becoming Foster Carers with their local authority. We are always looking for new Foster Carers with our greatest need being for Foster Carers who could provide a safe and loving home for sibling groups, older children, and children with additional needs.

“We understand it’s a really big decision for people to make, but we offer excellent support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and offer financial allowances in recognition of the valuable role Foster Carers have in providing loving homes for the children in our care. I would encourage anyone who is thinking about becoming a Foster Carer to come along and have a chat with our friendly teams without feeling obligated or pressured in any way.”

For more information about fostering with Sefton, visit the Sefton Fostering website or contact the team on 0800 923 2777.

Southport foster carers launch campaign to boost fostering numbers in Sefton

A FOSTER family from Southport are lamenting a critical shortage of foster carers in the North West after it was revealed over there are 5,250 children in need of homes.

Louise and Mark Fisher are now  campaigning to reduce the severe shortage of foster carers in the region.

The couple have been carers with independent foster care agency Fostering Solutions since 2014, and currently have a young mother and her baby in their care.

They want to share their story to encourage more people in the local area to consider becoming foster carers.

Louise, 44, has a background in teaching in the Liverpool area, and Mark’s mum used to be a foster carer when he was younger. This gave Louise and Mark, 49,  an insight into the difference they could make to young lives.

Louise said; “I used to teach underprivileged girls at a school in Liverpool. As the final school bell went I would often wonder about the challenges the girls might face at home.

“I decided I wanted to help and fostering just seemed the right thing for us to do.

“I knew being a mum myself I could pass on my parenting skills to support someone to become a good parent, and so we decided to provide care for young parents and their babies. Parent and child fostering is completely different to any other type of foster care as you are there to teach a parent how to care for their own baby.

“The young mum we have with us at the moment was just 16 when she had her baby. She is just a child herself and wasn’t used to staying in, putting the baby first, or saving money to buy a microwave instead of spending it on herself. These are all things she’s had to learn to do.

“She’s such a lovely mummy and her true motherly instinct is really shining through. The run up to Christmas was extra special; we went out shopping and bought presents for my children and her baby.

“She was so excited, not just for herself but for her baby’s first Christmas too. One night we had to visit the on-call doctor as her baby had a virus, and whilst we were sat in the waiting room she turned to me and said ‘Thank you for being here for me, my life would have been so different if you’d fostered me when I was 12’. It is little moments like that when you realise why you foster in the first place. It’s just so rewarding.

“To anyone thinking of fostering, I would say go for it. Every small step forward you take with the young person in your care is so rewarding. It’s in these moments that you just know you’ve done the right thing.”

The North West has a critical shortage of foster carers, with over 5,250 children in local authority care in need of a safe and stable home.

Pam Larsen, Regional Director for Fostering Solutions, said; “We know that 1 child is taken into foster care every 17 minutes in the UK and you can help to make a big difference to a child’s life by becoming a foster carer.

“We know that becoming a foster carer is a big step, so we support our carers both practically and emotionally, whilst they become carers and throughout their fostering lives. Fostering Solutions is there for our carers 24 hours a day, offering foster carer buddies who are experienced carers, therapists and dedicated social workers. We also provide nationally recognised training and qualifications, as part of our learning and development programme – all of which allows our carers to become experts in the field. It’s hugely rewarding.”

If you think you can help to urgently find foster homes for children in the North West please register for Fostering Solutions’ free fostering information event by visiting www.fosteringsolutions.com/liverpool.

Making time for fostering in Sefton

Sefton Council is asking local residents to make time for fostering as part of a national campaign to raise awareness of fostering and recruit new carers.

The local authority is hosting one of its regular fostering information sessions to coincide with Foster Care Fortnight 2016, which takes place 16-29 May.

Foster Care Fortnight has taken place annually for nearly 20 years and is organised by national charity, The Fostering Network using the theme ‘A Time to Foster, A Time to Care’. As part of the theme, the charity is asking people to describe their ‘best ever 20 minutes’ to recognise that every 20 minutes another child enters care in the UK.

According to The Fostering Network, nationally 9,070 carers are needed in the next 12 months to provide stable homes for a range of children, with the greatest need being for older children, sibling groups and disabled children. This picture is reflected in Sefton, where Sefton Council’s fostering service wants to recruit 30 new foster carers to address the needs of children in its care.

Sefton Council’s fostering information session takes place at 6.30pm on Wednesday, May 18 at Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre. Here anyone who is thinking of fostering can meet Sefton’s experts, watch presentations, ask questions and meet experienced foster carers to find out what is involved first hand.

Alongside the information session, Sefton’s fostering service is asking carers, care leavers and social workers to share their best twenty minutes in foster care as part of a drive to recruit new carers online, through social media and sharing marketing resources with local partners in health, education and the voluntary sector.

Foster carer, Fran Ryan, said: “Foster Care Fortnight has made me think about my best 20 minutes in fostering, which is incredibly tough, as it has been such a rewarding time for me.

“But I do have a particular memory that has really stuck with me. We were fostering a little boy, he was very troubled. He’d been excluded from mainstream school because of his behavioural issues; he was one of the saddest boys I’d ever met. We took him for a family holiday on a barge boat.

“What a difference we saw, he relaxed right into it. I remember seeing him sitting on the roof saluting people as we moved along, then he would jump off and race the barge along the side of the canal. He seemed so happy and confident; he was like any other child without a care in the world! I was so pleased we could be a part of that.”

If you are considering fostering children in Sefton, contact Sefton Fostering and Adoption Service Freephone 0800 923 2777 or visit www.seftonfostering.co.uk.