Lancashire County Council is hoping that when people made their New Year's resolutions, they took the time to think how they might help local children for whom life hasn't been easy.
At the beginning of this year, the county council launched a campaign to recruit more foster carers. The campaign is being promoted on billboards, posters and social media over the next few weeks.
The majority of children that the county council looks after are cared for in foster homes. Many of them remain in care for some time, but with around 20 Lancashire children coming into care each week and needing urgent foster care placements, the campaign aims to attract local people and families to come forward and find out more.
County Coun. Susie Charles, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Schools, said: "New Year is traditionally a time when people decide to make a change in their lives – give something up, or start something new.
"I'd like to take advantage of that new-year frame of mind to encourage people to think about a change they could make not just to their own life, but to that of a Lancashire child.
"Becoming a foster carer is a big decision, and we don't suggest anyone takes it lightly. But if anyone is wondering whether it might be for them, they can have a chat with our friendly staff without feeling pressurised or obligated in any way.
"We are pleased to run this campaign. In Lancashire, we have 1,923 children in our care and we need more people to provide the support and stable homes that these children and young people need to really thrive.
"We are always looking for new foster carers to look after the range of children who come into our care each week, with the greatest need being for foster carers for older children, sibling groups and children with additional needs.
"We have increased our allowances to foster carers in recognition of their valuable role in providing loving homes for the children in our care. There is also a rising demand for placements with more children and young people coming into the care of the local authority each week.
"We are looking for people who can foster all ages of children, particularly siblings who need to stay together, and teenagers. No formal experience or qualifications are needed, all we ask is that you have a spare room available and a desire to make a difference to a local child's life.
“People have a lot of preconceived ideas about why they might be ruled out as foster carers, but the only thing that matters is the support you can offer the child. Whether you are older, single or never had children, you can foster. Foster carers don’t need superpowers, they just need to be able to provide a solid and reliable foundation for children and young people to find theirs.
"We know that fostering doesn't just improve the lives of the children and young people who are fostered, it also has the potential to enrich the lives of foster carers, their families and all those who are involved in fostering.
“If you are interested in fostering then your local authority is the best place to find out more. More people turn to their local authorities than any other fostering provider. Foster carers across the North West are benefiting from the local support and training we provide.”
New foster carers can expect to receive between £241 and £300 per week for each child they care for.
People who have considered fostering before but weren't sure they could afford it are advised to come along to an information evening and find out if it could now be a viable option.
No formal experience or qualifications are needed to be a foster carer, all you need is a spare room available and a desire to make a difference to a local child's life.
A package of support is available 24/7 to help foster carers in their role, including local support groups, their own social worker, a dedicated helpline and flexible training.
Out of hours support is available via a dedicated helpline staffed by experienced social workers. Training is flexible including during school hours, evenings and weekends and online training, and can be tailored to the needs of any child.
Recruitment priorities for Lancashire and the region include places for:
- Brothers and sisters – including sibling groups of three or more children/young people.
- Older children/young people – over half of all looked after children are 10 or older.
- Children from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, in particular black or Asian children and increasingly those from new migrant communities.
- Long term – where children and young people are not able to live with their own families for a number of years, if at all. Children and young people stay in a family where they feel secure, while maintaining contact with their birth family.
- Children with complex/additional needs including challenging behaviour.
- Parents and children together - this involves having a child or children with one or more of the parents in your home and supporting them to care for their children. This type of fostering is challenging but rewarding and the enhanced allowances offered to foster carers reflect this.
For more information about becoming a foster carer, or to find out more about the campaign, call the fostering recruitment team on 0300 123 6723 or visit: www.lancashire.gov.uk/fostering