|Could You Be A Foster Carer?|
Helping vulnerable and disadvantaged children to a better life in Hounslow
Hounslow Council is campaigning to recruit more foster carers for the borough’s 300+ looked after children as part of Foster Care Fortnight (16-25 May).
Adverts, posters and information sessions are taking place across the borough to encourage more people to think about becoming a foster carer. The situation is particularly bad in London, especially for teenagers, according to a new survey from the Fostering Network, which reveals that 100 per cent of fostering services in London have a shortage of foster families for that age group.
The borough’s current foster carers are at the heart of the campaign and will be on hand, along with a few of the young people in their care, at information sessions as well as starring in posters and adverts across the borough.
Yared and Messi Ashenafi are Hounslow foster carers and have fostered directly for the council since April 2010. They had previously fostered for an independent agency since 2006, and found the switch to fostering for Hounslow Council to be very worthwhile.
Yared says: “We have fostered four different children between the ages of 10-18, and we find the support offered by the council’s fostering team to be so hopeful in helping us to look after vulnerable children.”
Advice and support is always available for carers, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and a high weekly child’s allowance is paid to meet the needs of each child placed. Hounslow foster carers are paid up to £363 per week per child, higher than the national recommended rate for foster carers.
But why foster? Yared continues: “We find the whole process very rewarding and fulfilling. We always wanted to help vulnerable and disadvantaged children and fostering is one of the quickest options to do that without going to other parts of the world, to make a change in another person’s life. To make that difference is something really special.
“On our last placement, we celebrated our foster child's birthday on the day they came to us, which was one day after our own daughter’s 18th birthday. It was a week of fantastic celebrations and definitely made our foster child feel very special.”
Fostering involves meeting the day-to-day needs of children who, for whatever reason, cannot live with their own family. It can be for just a few days, a few months or sometimes until they are ready to live independently.
Cllr Lily Bath, Hounslow’s lead member for children, youth and families said “Our foster carers are one of our greatest assets. They provide a safe and welcoming home for children and young people who need it most.
“They come from all walks of life. Some are married, some single, some work full-time, others don’t. The one thing they all have in common is that they all got in touch to find out more.
“Advice and support is always available for foster carers and a generous weekly allowance is paid to meet the needs of each child placed.
“We always have children and young people who need fostering in the borough, so I strongly encourage anyone who thinks they could offer a safe and welcoming home to get in touch
The Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'It is an appalling situation, and a sad one, that London’s teenagers are missing out on the foster homes they need. Childhood and our teenage years should be about making friends, learning, exploration and discovery, not worrying about our home life. Come on London, now is the time to care. Foster carers can come from all walks of life and cover a very broad age range. There must be thousands of people across the capital that could be foster carers and provide the security and stability that young people, especially teenagers, need.'
Hounslow needs foster carers to meet the needs of children aged 5-18 years. If you want to find out more about becoming a foster carer, visit www.hounslow.gov.uk/fostering or call the council’s fostering team on 0800 731 8558.
May 19, 2011