Council wins Fostering Award
Flintshire County Council has been honoured for being "Fostering Friendly Employer of the Year" at a national fostering award ceremony held in London on 26 October 2017.
The Council approved a "Fostering Friendly" policy in November last year. This makes it the first local authority in Wales to be recognised as a fostering friendly employer.
The Fostering Excellence Awards are the UK's leading foster care awards. They celebrate excellence and outstanding achievement in fostering and recognise those who make exceptional contributions to foster care every year. Now in their fourth year, the Fostering Excellence Awards shine a spotlight on some of the young people, foster carers, social workers and others who make a positive contribution to the fostering community.
The policy offers employees of the Council in the process of becoming local authority foster carers up to five days paid leave. The policy also allows a further five days paid leave for employees who are foster carers with Flintshire so that they can attend training and/or meetings, panels, hearings or any key events in support of foster children and young people in their care.
The fostering friendly policy has been widely promoted to the Council's workforce internally. Since launching the policy, the fostering team has already received enquiries and applications from employees who bring excellent experience from their line of work.
Flintshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Social Services, Councillor Christine Jones, said:
"Balancing being a parent and working is a challenge for most families, but the children in foster care have additional challenges due to suffering abuse and neglect. The school run can be a struggle, being able to respond to children's needs if they are having problems in school, or simply being available to get the bedroom ready for a new child coming into your care. It's important that our foster carers are allowed flexibility to respond to the children's needs."
Flintshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Corporate Management and Assets, Councillor Billy Mullin, said:
"Foster carers need to attend training to learn new strategies to help with the children's increasing complex behaviours and there is a three day training course which needs to be completed before they become a foster carer. All of this would involve a foster carer using up their holidays which they need for when the children are off school. By being allowed to work as well as foster ensures that our foster carers can continue their careers, are financially stable and good role models by being in employment."
Flintshire County Council already has foster carers who were pleased when they were told that Flintshire was now a fostering friendly employer, allowing them extra days off to attend training to increase their skills.
Jane Liddle, a Flintshire foster carer and Council employee, said:
"I am delighted that Flintshire has recognised the difficulties encountered by their foster carers who have to juggle work and home life. As an emergency/respite foster carer who works for Social Services, in the past I had to use up flexi leave to fulfil my fostering role and was loath to attend training courses as it meant using up annual leave. Fostering Friendly Flintshire gives me the opportunity to attend courses without being penalised and so develop my skills and knowledge and meet other carers and professionals.'
Caroline, also a foster carer and Council employee, said:
"I think the support from the Council has been exceptional and has helped me in my role of a foster carer. The extra leave and flexible hours gives me the flexibility I need to attend meetings, training and deal with the unexpected emergencies that may arise when you are part of a foster family."
Pictured: Cllr Billy Mullin, Cllr Christine Jones, Jill Jones Fostering Service, Jane Liddle Foster Carer and FCC employee and Jane Davies FCC Social Services