Recruitment drive pays dividends but more foster carers still needed
Last year 15 new Renfrewshire families opened their hearts and their homes to vulnerable children by deciding to become foster carers.
The figures are contained in a new report from Renfrewshire’s Fostering and Adoption Panel. The rise saw Renfrewshire Council increase its pool of active foster carers by 19% during 2011/12.
Despite the increase, Renfrewshire still needs more foster carers and is actively recruiting potential adoptive parents and foster carers – especially for children who are 10 and over and children who need more intensive parenting.
Councillor Iain McMillan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Social Work, Health and Well-being Policy Board, said, “As of 31 March 2012 the council was looking after 794 children. While many of these children will go back to their own parents after a short time in foster care, others won’t be able to go home and may move on to either permanent fostering or adoption. This can be because of neglect or abuse or because their parents have drink or drug problems which mean they no longer put their children’s needs first.
“But whatever the reason, life has not been easy for these children and they need love and stability to grow into happy, confident people. While we have been very successful in recruiting foster carers and adoptive parents, we still need a lot more.
“We rely on foster carers to provide homes for over 200 children and young people who come into our care.”
Renfrewshire Council provides its foster carers and adoptive parents with ongoing training and full support.
Carers need to be over 21 but there is no fixed upper age limit. Carers can be married or single, home owners or tenants. They can be working or unemployed. Carers don’t need to live in Renfrewshire – they can live up to 25 miles away. Importantly, they do have to have a spare room.
Councillor McMillan said, “Our aim is to get the best possible match between the child and the person who cares for them. The most vital qualification we are looking for is someone who can offer a child a stable, loving home when they need it most.”
Jim and Charlotte Telford are from Johnstone, Renfrewshire, and have been fostering since 2007. They are registered with Renfrewshire Council to care for children aged 0 to 12 years old on a short term basis.
Charlotte said, “We love having children round us and are a very child minded family. Plus, having had five children and five grandchildren, we are used to our house being filled with kids running about!
“We had always thought about fostering and now that our children have grown up we have the space to start taking in foster children. Now our house feels like a home again with the hustle and bustle of family life. The foster children have been brilliant and we feel blessed that we are able to offer them a loving and stable environment for the time that we have them.”
Jim and Charlotte’s five children, who range in age from 24 to 35, have been very supportive of their parents’ decision to start fostering. “Our grandchildren have really enjoyed getting to know our foster children and the kids love to play together when they visit us at the weekends,” Charlotte said.
Although both Charlotte and Jim admit that their application process was thorough, and at sometimes quite personal, they both felt they were well supported throughout the process and received valuable help and advice from their dedicated social worker.
“I would advise anyone who is interested in child care or a career in care to think about fostering,” said Charlotte. “It is extremely rewarding to see the children you’re looking after developing and thriving, and the support we have received has been great.”