Councillor Patricia Stallard, the County Council’s Executive Lead Member for Children’s Services and Young People, said:
“At any time, around 1138 children across Hampshire are in need of foster care. Our foster carers do a fantastic job looking after and, in many cases, changing the lives of Hampshire’s vulnerable children - an especially challenging responsibility during the pandemic. Our fostering team continues to encourage others to consider fostering and to offer foster carers the support they need at this difficult time.
“Fostercare Fortnight is usually an opportunity to hold events in the community where people can ask questions and talk to foster carers about what fostering involves, but these face to face meetings have been put on hold until social distancing restrictions are lifted. Instead, we are running a high-profile online and media campaign to encourage more Hampshire residents to step forward to foster.
“The lockdown has given many people an opportunity to reflect on what direction they want to take their lives post Covid-19, and the Fostering Hampshire Children Team has been taking enquiries from people who have expressed an interest in fostering in future. Many are surprised to find out that fostering is open to every type of household, not just traditional two-parent families. This Fostercare Fortnight, we want to reach out to more of those householders who are considering a future in fostering and encourage them to contact us to find out more.”
One great example of the type of household that could look after vulnerable young people is found in Chris, a single male carer. He works full time during the week, but at weekends his home is available for emergency respite placements.
He said: “I saw an advert for fostering, found myself with a spare room and decided to apply. My biggest achievement was a boy who was a joyrider and had moved from placement to placement. As a father of four, I’m fluent in teenage ‘grunt’ language and so I spent some time with him and built up a rapport. I was the only foster carer he didn’t run away from, and he’d asked to come back to me – for that I’m really proud.”
Another foster carer, Keren, originally signed up to do parent and child fostering, where a vulnerable parent and child are both looked after as part of a foster family. Owing to the Covid-19 crisis, Keren’s plans were adapted.
She said: “As a family, we decided we wouldn’t take parent and child placements during lockdown because we didn’t think it would be fair on everyone involved. However, we decided we could take a baby. A couple of weeks later we had a call and the next thing you know we’re taking home a three-hour old baby. It’s actually a really lovely time to have a newborn in the house with no time restraints and everyone in the home to help and enjoy taking care of a little one."
Fostering with Hampshire County Council is not dependent on marital status, ethnicity, sexuality or age - so long as you are over 21 and have a spare room. Foster carers can receive up to £600 per week for each child they look after, and a referral fee of up to £500 if they encourage their friends to sign up too.
Even if it is not possible to foster right now, there are other ways to support Hampshire children and find more foster carers, including joining the 150-strong team of Innovation Volunteers who support foster families and children - more details at www.hants.gov.uk/community.
To keep up with Fostering Hampshire Children’s latest news and links, or to send a message, follow the social media channels @hampshirechildren (Facebook) and @hantschildren (Twitter).
Other ways to contact Fostering Hampshire Children are:
Telephone 01489 587052;
Or visit www.hants.gov.uk/fostering to learn more about fostering, download an information pack, request a call back for an informal chat or apply to become a foster carer.