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Foster families urge people to try short break fostering

Staffordshire’s foster families are taking to the road in a new campaign to encourage more people to try short break fostering

The latest campaign from the county’s fostering service wants to find people who could foster a child for one weekend a month.

Short break fostering involves looking after a child for a short period, usually over the weekend but can also be during school holidays.  It could include looking after a child to give the full-time fosters a break, or providing respite for a child with a disability or supporting adoptive parents.

As a short break foster carer, people will get access to all the training and support on offer to full-time carers and also a competitive allowance.

Now, Staffordshire foster carers are taking their roadshow out across the county to help highlight this urgent need for more foster families.

Staffordshire foster carers, Heather and Kevin Biddulph have been fostering for 20 years and started off in short break fostering.  The couple are now encouraging others to try it.

Heather said:

“We have been foster carers for over 20 years now. We started as short break carers giving support to families with disabled children to give the child experience of another family while giving the foster family a chance to have time together.

“Just over 14 years ago we were asked to do an emergency placement for a two-year-old boy with profound physical and learning disabilities.  To cut a long story short he has stayed with us ever since and recently turned 18.

“Fostering can be challenging but the rewards of seeing the child happy and developing far outweigh the challenges. I would definitely encourage people to visit the roadshows and try short break fostering as you never know where it will lead you.”

Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council said:

“We are always looking for foster families to come forward and this time we are particularly looking for people who are interested in short break fostering.

“We know there are some people who won’t be able to foster full-time because of other commitments but this is a great way of making a difference just at weekends.  It’s also a good way of ‘testing the water’ to see if fostering is for you and to grow your experience to potentially foster full-time one day.

“We all want to see children and young people get the best possible start in life, and that’s exactly what you could do as a foster carer.  There’s always lots of training and support on hand and you’re never on your own, so please get in touch with us if you think you can make a difference.”

Every year, tens of thousands of children across the UK need someone to provide foster care and in Staffordshire alone, 60 more foster families need to be found this year.

Throughout the campaign, Staffordshire’s foster carers will be joining ‘Reggie Bear’ on the Fostering Service’s promotional bus which will be calling in at the following towns between 10am and 2pm over the next couple of weeks:

Friday 7th September – Biddulph Home Bargains
Tuesday 11th September – Burton Coopers Square Car Park
Thursday 13th September – Stone High Street

Special fostering information events will also take place at the following locations:

Wednesday 12th September, 7pm, Staffordshire Place 1, Stafford.
Thursday 27th September, 7pm, Westwood Golf Club, Leek.
Wednesday 3rd October, 7pm, Castle Hotel, Tamworth.
Thursday 25th October, 7pm, Staffordshire Place 1, Stafford.

People can find out more about fostering with Staffordshire County Council and the support available at www.shortbreakfostering.info or by calling 0800 169 2061.