Flintshire foster carers’ stories show everyone can ‘bring something to the table’ to support local children in care
There are more than 7,000 children in the care system in Wales, but only 3,800 foster families.
There are currently 96 children in foster care in Flintshire and 88 foster carers, but more are needed.
Foster Wales - the national network of 22 Welsh local authority fostering teams - set out with the bold aim of recruiting over 800 new foster families by 2026, to provide welcoming homes for local children and young people.
Foster Wales Flintshire has joined the new campaign, ‘bring something to the table,’ utilising their greatest asset – current foster carers – to share realistic experiences of foster care and explore the small but significant human attributes people possess that can make the world of difference to a young person in care.
Foster Wales has spoken to over 100 people to develop the campaign– including foster carers, social workers, teachers, members of the public, and care leavers.
The responses from these groups highlighted three key things stopping potential carers from enquiring:
· A lack of confidence in their skills and ability to support a child in care.
· The belief that fostering doesn’t fit with certain lifestyles.
· Misconceptions around the criteria to become a carer.
Armed with this knowledge, Foster Wales has drawn on real stories of carers in Wales to show that local authority fostering is flexible, inclusive, and comes with extensive training and professional development opportunities.
Gavin is a long-term, single foster carer with Foster Wales Flintshire and has been fostering teenagers for 15 years. Gavin is a patient and caring foster carer who has a dynamic and flexible approach to fostering.
During his time as a foster carer he has often done emergency foster care as well as long-term fostering and ‘When I’m Ready’, a scheme in Wales which gives young people the right to stay with their foster carers once they reach 18 years of age.
Gavin also works full time but through utilising support from the fostering service and a peer network of local foster carers, is able to provide high quality foster care to young people in Flintshire.
Gavin has a laid-back approach to fostering with emphasis on children and young people having a relaxed home environment where they can be themselves, build independence and thrive. Many of the children and young people Gavin has supported over the last 15 years are still in touch with him today.
He said: “After 15 years of fostering I still believe the opportunity to see a child or young person flourish in your care is a privilege. There is nothing more satisfying than playing a part in their success, and providing the start in life that allows them to move on to independence.”
Wales is leading the way in children’s services
Currently, Wales is in the process of a whole system change for children’s services.
The changes proposed in the 2021 co-operation agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru made a clear commitment to ‘eliminate private profit from the care of looked after children.’
This means, by 2027, care of children that are looked after in Wales will be provided by public sector, charitable or not-for-profit organisations, and the need for local authority foster carers is greater than ever.
Chief Officer for Social Services, Neil Ayling, said: "Our local authority foster carers in Flintshire do an incredible job, supporting children by offering their skills, experience, empathy and kindness to ensure they feel safe and secure.
“There is a need to recruit more amazing foster carers in Flintshire to ensure that all local children have a welcoming home.
“When you foster with Foster Wales Flintshire, we ensure you have access to dedicated local knowledge and support, a brilliant learning and development package and more importantly, you can help children stay in their own local community, close to friends, their school and everything they hold close.
“We encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to a child’s life to bring their skills and experience to the table and get in contact with Foster Wales in Flintshire.”
For more information about fostering, or to make an enquiry, click here.