More than 10 local foster families are urgently needed to join the 46 Wokingham Borough Council fostering homes for some of its children and young people in care who want to be fostered close to their families and friends in the borough.
With the annual national Foster Care Fortnight (13 to 26 May) about to start, the borough council wants to reach out to would-be foster carers for teenagers, siblings, and asylum seeking and disabled children who desperately need foster carers in the borough.
The council always looks for homes for the 100 plus children and young people currently in care with its own council carers first.
Additional financial assistance in the form of council tax exemption is offered as part of a wide range of benefits and incentives.
Executive member for children services, Cllr Pauline Helliar-Symons said: “We’d like to find local homes for all our children and encourage more local residents to come and talk to us about how fostering can change lives.”
She added: “Our foster carers find fostering enormously rewarding. Children go into foster care for all sorts of reasons, usually not their own fault, but the work our foster carers do gives youngsters a happier and more supported life. We are really grateful to them and value them enormously. Please give some thought as to whether you could be one of these special people.”
Foster carers, Steve and Monika Allum, are proud to foster. Steve said: “Since joining Wokingham Borough Council as a foster carer, three years ago, we feel part of a big family. We used to foster for an agency and nearly gave up because of the lack of support. Looking after young people in care is challenging but we can't see us doing anything else after seeing what a positive impact we have on their lives.”
Regardless of culture, background, sexual orientation and whether you are a homeowner or tenant, if you have a spare room, are aged 21 and over with life experience, live within twenty miles of the borough and have time for a child, you could foster. What matters most, is that you are the right family or person for our children.
As a foster carer, the council offers attractive remuneration packages, council tax exemption, excellent training including a specialist therapeutic programme, as well as one-to-one and out-of-hours support. Fees increase with experience often resulting in the equivalent of a reasonable salary, which could provide a complete change of career. For example, an experienced foster carer at Level 2, who cares for two children all year, could earn more than £25,000 p.a. excluding allowances for the child.
During Foster Care Fortnight, the council is holding a drop-in information day on Thursday May 23 at the Diamond Jubilee Room in Wokingham Town Hall. Foster carers will share their experiences and discuss the positive life changes created for the children and young people involved. People can drop-in anytime between 1pm and 7.45pm.
The application process is also probably much quicker than you think. To find out more, call Jackie Ross, Recruitment & Marketing Officer on (0118) 974 6204 for an informal chat or visit www.fostering.wokingham.gov.uk
Picture shows foster carer Steve Allum with his daughter, Jo-Anna, and dog, Minty.