The regional celebration provides an opportunity for Hampshire residents to find out more about fostering or take the first steps to becoming foster carers, as well as to thank the dedicated foster carers who commit to providing a stable, happy and caring home for children and young people who, in most cases temporarily, are unable to live with their birth parents.
Fostering Hampshire Children, part of Hampshire County Council, has organised a series of virtual information events and is inviting you to join them to find out more about what fostering involves and ask any questions you may have. You can chat with foster carers informally about what fostering is like from their perspective and find out how and why they decided to foster.
Councillor Roz Chadd, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Children’s Services, commented: “Our foster carers do an incredibly important job and we’d like to extend our warmest thanks to them all. The last 18 months have been tough for everyone but the kindness, compassion and resilience they have shown has been admirable. There are currently over 1,500 children being looked after in Hampshire, but for every child being welcomed into a foster carer’s home, there are more in need of one. In order to ensure every child is cared for in the way they deserve, we need more foster carers. I’d urge anyone who is interested in making a difference with Hampshire’s Children to attend one of our virtual events so we can provide some real insight into fostering and answer any questions you may have.”
Fostering Hampshire Children will be sharing foster carer stories, videos and information online throughout the week. Recently retired foster carer Sarah, and her husband Michael, fostered 163 children over a 45-year period. “We’ve looked after babies and young children, sibling groups, children with complex needs and mothers with children. Our main aim was always the same - to give them love and support them as they grow and develop.”
Although all Hampshire County Council foster carers share these values, fostering need not be all consuming. Many carers provide respite care which fits in around their other commitments. Sue and Richard now look after Samantha, who has cerebral palsy, once a month. “We provide specialist respite care, now called Home from Home, and look after children with complex needs. Like many people, we have busy lives, and decided we wanted to dedicate one weekend a month to fostering.”
Home from Home care gives a child with complex needs the opportunity to have new experiences and meet new people, and to build a supportive and close relationship with their family. This time out gives parents and siblings valuable time to relax and recharge their batteries and do things together that they may not otherwise be able to do while caring.
Led by experienced social workers and foster carers, the virtual events are open to everyone. Anyone who is interested in fostering is encouraged to come along to one of the following:
- Fostering information session: Monday 25 October, 7.30pm
- Cuppa with a Carer: Wednesday 27 October, 7.30pm
- Fostering information session: Saturday 30 October, 10.30am
Anyone who is interested in attending one of these free virtual events, is asked to register in advance online via:
New scheme for supporting foster carers
Hampshire County Council is committed to creating a supportive environment for every one of its foster carers. A new foster carer support system has been set up, the Hampshire Hives, with six hives already up and running. These hives are currently supporting 56 families and 80 children in care. Another six hives will be created over the coming months.
Sarah valued the Fostering Hampshire Children team at Hampshire County Council, she says, “They have always been incredibly supportive, with lovely, helpful social workers. The most important thing is being honest if you need some guidance or information, it’s all about working together as a team. We loved the sense of achievement that came with fostering, the knowledge that we were doing something good and really helping those children when they needed it most. My advice to anyone thinking about fostering would be, if you can do it, just do it.”
Foster carers also have access to a 24 hour helpline, a comprehensive training programme and a monthly newsletter packed with updates and news. For more information about fostering and other information events, and to download our information pack, visit www.hants.gov.uk/fostering.