A new campaign has been launched to dispel some of the common myths about fostering, and encourage people to come forward and help local children.
With around 20 new children coming into care in Lancashire each week, many individuals or couples who could make great foster carers are sometimes put off by myths and pre-conceived ideas about eligibility.
The campaign, which launched today (Monday, 11 January), is being promoted in many ways including on social media channels, billboards, on buses, and at bus shelters. It will run until Sunday, 24 January.
It highlights the need for more foster carers and the incredible impact they can make on a child or young person at a time when it is really needed, whilst also enriching their own lives.
The campaign focuses on some of the most common myths by explaining that:
• You can be a foster carer if you are single
• You can be a foster carer if you don’t have any qualifications
• You can be a foster carer if you aren’t a homeowner
People are being asked to consider whether a change in their circumstances caused by the current pandemic could leave them well placed to provide a loving home for a vulnerable young person.
The county council is also urging anyone who has fostered with them in the past to think about coming forward to offer the benefit of their experience.
It is hoped that foster carers who are currently taking a break from fostering and retired foster carers will also come forward as they already have the skills and know how important fostering is for making a real difference to a local child’s life.
Becoming a foster carer could also be an ideal opportunity for anyone who is looking for a new challenge.
Also, anyone who has considered fostering previously, and whose circumstances are now different, is asked to come forward.
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people, and schools, said: “We’re highlighting a few of the myths as part of the ongoing promotion to recruit new foster carers. Lots of people are concerned that they won’t be able to foster for one reason or another, so we thought it would be useful to point out some of the questions we get asked, to bust the myths.
“It’s quite common for people to ask if they have to be in a relationship to be a foster carer, or think that they can’t because they haven’t got any formal qualifications, or they can’t because they don’t own their own home.
“The reality is that fostering is open to people from a wide variety of backgrounds. For example, carers must be over 21 but there is no upper age limit. You also need to have a bedroom available for a child that can be their own space. Other than this, you can be considered. I urge people to come forward and find out, rather than simply rule themselves out.”
Foster carers could be asked to care for children and young people across a wide age range, from birth to 18-years-old. There’s a particular need for foster carers who could support an older child or teenager who need a safe and secure home environment through the current pandemic.
Caring for vulnerable children is one of Lancashire County Council’s highest priorities, and its fostering team are available 24/7 to offer support and advice. Foster carers also have access to their own social worker, a dedicated helpline, and flexible training.
There is also a generous allowance for both new and experienced foster carers, who can expect to receive between £250 and £428 per week for each child they care for.
The county council has introduced some new initiatives so that it can provide even more support and guidance for new foster carers including a foster care academy and fostering mentoring scheme.
New foster carers will also receive specialised training and any necessary support from a team of psychologists and emotional health workers.
Lancashire County Council welcomes new foster carers from all different backgrounds.
Foster carers need to be over 21 and have a spare room available by the end of the assessment process.
To find out more, visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/fostering or call our team on 0300 123 6723.