Gateshead Council is urging more families to become foster parents with hundreds of children and young people in need of lifesaving support.
A new program, dubbed the “Foster Care Fortnight campaign”, is scheduled to take place from May 9 to 22. The initiative aims to ease pressure on the council’s welfare resources and provide children with a safe home environment.
A care strategy report presented to Gateshead Council on April 26 found that 465 children and young people needed care outside their family home in January. This is an increase of more than 10% compared to the same period in 2020.
Read more: Gateshead Council pledges to reduce child care numbers
Andrea Houlahan, Deputy Strategic Director of Gateshead Council for Children, Social Care and Early Support Services, said: “We know the impact of the past two years has had a significant impact on families across the arrondissement.”
“We know we need to encourage more families to adopt because we have had a general increase in the number of children in the care of the council. I think it takes a special person to open their house”. Although Ms Houlahan understood that ‘families are concerned about the cost of living and how they are going to get by’.
In response to why uptake of foster care is relatively low, Ms Houlahan said: “There are myths and legends about who can become foster parents. We want to encourage people from all walks of life to become host families.
“If you are able to provide a home, love and care, you may be considered and invited to become a foster parent.” The council’s report had acknowledged that placing children in local government custody would always be a last resort.
Ms Houlahan said: “Our long-term goal is to try to keep the children in their family home. It would be a very difficult decision and we will only do it as a last resort. We would like to reduce the number of children who need care. Children in need of care must be placed with external family members and otherwise they will be cared for by Gateshead.”
When asked what she would say to families considering fostering, Ms. Houlahan replied, “I would say it’s a really rewarding job. It’s something you’ll get a lifetime of satisfaction from the children who enter your home. You will be able to offer them opportunities that will change their lives.
“You will be supported by the foster community and formal training, whenever needed. They will have regular training opportunities with our foster services. We regularly offer events and training for all of our foster parents. It’s a fantastic team we have supporting our families and it’s really rewarding work to do.
Ann-Marie Henderson, Barnardo’s Placement and Adoption Manager, North East, said: “Barnardo’s has 100 years of placement experience and we welcome all efforts to raise awareness of placement and to work working closely with local authorities to encourage people to come forward and discover Suite.
“You can give a vulnerable child a home when they need it most and your love and support can make a huge difference in their life – and in yours. We have experts who can provide all the necessary training and support. 24/7 assistance.
“We welcome passionate people from all walks of life. If you’re over 21, have a spare bedroom, live in the UK and have the time and commitment to support a child , you could be the special someone they need.”
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