‘You need to be a certain age’, ‘be in a relationship’, or ‘own your own home’–are just some of the misconceptions that prevent people from considering fostering according to findings by Staffordshire County Council.
But one young foster carer from Staffordshire is now proving that fostering can be for everyone.
Leon Hudson is 27 years old, is single and is a full-time foster carer with Staffordshire County Council. He became a foster carer to a teenage boy nine months ago and now says it is the best decision he has ever made.
Leon, who previously worked at a residential children’s home is now encouraging others like him to come forward and give fostering a go.
The last 9 months have been the best of my life. Becoming a foster carer has been the best thing I have ever been part of. It feels like normal and my young person is now doing well in both his personal and educational life which is great. It just goes to show what having a settled secure home and most importantly feeling loved can do for a young person.
I would encourage other people to come forward to be foster carers because every young person across the board, needs that family environment, and deserve it.”
There are currently around 400 fostering households in Staffordshire and with the number of children needing a loving home on the increase, more foster carers are being urged to come forward.
“We need more foster families to come forward and there’s no such thing as a typical foster carer,” explained Cllr Mike Lawrence, Cabinet Member for Children at Staffordshire County Council.
Many people rule themselves out of fostering because they think they won’t be considered as they are too young or too old, they don’t own their own home, or are not married. But this is not the case and our campaign is reminding people to think again as these reasons won’t rule them out.
Fostering isn’t always easy though, but it offers the opportunity to make an amazing difference to children and foster carers tell us it’s a very rewarding experience. People who want to foster need to care about children, have great communication skills and be ready for a challenge. I would encourage anyone with the desire to help give a child in their area a home, to come along and have a chat with us.”
Leon’s story comes ahead of Foster Care Fortnight, starting on 16 May when the Council’s fostering bus will be touring the county to encourage more foster families to come forward.
The latest campaign hopes to recruit 60 families from across the county over the next twelve months and there is a specific need for carers of teenagers and sibling groups.
‘Reggie,’ the foster service’s new promotional bus, will be making its way across the county, giving people the chance to meet and talk to existing foster carers about the work they do.
Most people can foster but people need to have a spare room and have the time and commitment to support a child.
There are different types of fostering available, including: short term placements, short breaks for families of children with disabilities, or long term placements until the child is independent. There are also options which help young people move from residential care into a fostering family.
Staffordshire County Council’s Fostering Service has been recognised by Ofsted as Outstanding for training and support for carers with access to support groups and mentoring. Foster carers also receive an allowance that covers the cost of caring for a child at home and also a weekly professional fee.
People can find out more online at www.staffordshire.gov.uk/fostering or by calling 0800 169 2061.
The bus starts its tour from Market Square in Stafford on Monday 16 May at 12 noon and will be visiting the following areas:
Monday 16th May – Stafford Market Square Tuesday 17th May – Cannock Market Square Wednesday 18th May – Uttoxeter Dovefields Car park Thursday 19th May – Newcastle Iron market Friday 20th May – Coopers Square Burton
Monday 23rd May – Lichfield Market Square Tuesday 24th May – Rugeley Market Square Wednesday 25th May – Tamworth St Edithas Square Thursday 26th May- Outside Leek Co-op Friday 27th May – Cheadle Tape Street
A series of fostering information events are also taking place at:
Thursday 26 May, 7pm – Staffordshire Place 1, Stafford, ST16 2LP Wednesday 8 June, 7pm – Roman Way Hotel, Cannock, WS11 1SH Wednesday 15 June, 7pm – Westwood Golf Club, Leek ST13 7AA Wednesday 6 July, 7pm – Burton Town Hall, Burton, DE14 2EB