Kent County Council (KCC) is looking to recruit 150 new foster carers to provide loving homes to vulnerable children in the county.
The council is backing the national recruitment campaign Foster Care Fortnight 2019 (May 13 – 26) and calling on residents to get in touch to find out how they can change a child’s future.
Since 2018, the number of children in the care of the local authority has fallen by just under 150 to 1,600, with around three quarters in foster care. However, despite more than 80 families, couples and single people taking the plunge many more are still needed.
Nationally there are 43,000 foster families, leaving an estimated shortfall of just over 9,000.
Carers like Wendy and Trevor Percival from Gravesend provide the backbone of the fostering community, having provided loving homes to almost 70 children since they joined in 2002.
Wendy, 51, said: “It’s been a rewarding journey, despite the odd bump along the way. The whole family has learned a great deal and try to help our foster children to the best of our ability and to support them through good times and bad.
“We have learnt about all sorts of disorders and problems children are either born with or developed in their short lives.
“With this ever-growing knowledge, the whole family try to help all of them to the best of our ability. Being about for their rough times, and upsets, but also understanding them, creating good times, and having fun when we can.
“I think the most rewarding thing you can have is when a child who has left comes back when an adult, telling you how everything you taught them, or they gained from living with you, helped shaped their future and what a great inspiration we were.
“I always say to every child when they arrive, ‘you may not be blood relatives, but now you are part of our family’.
“It doesn’t seem like 17-years and we have cherished every moment with them all.”
Foster carers can look after children and teenagers long term or offer short-break respite care for children with disabilities.
In Kent, foster carers are needed in all areas for children of all ages, including parent and child carers, disabled children, siblings and teenagers.
Kent Fostering is also developing a new “Hub Family Scheme” where one foster carer family is linked with 3-4 children living with foster carers in their local community, to be there as extra support to the child’s main placement. This is an entirely new type of fostering with an excellent rewards package.
Alan and Amanda Forrest, from Deal, raised three children of their own before deciding they wanted to foster in 2010.
“We’ve lived a charmed life and we were very lucky with our own children and wanted to give something back”, said Amanda, 56.
“I was working in a library at the time and they had a stand for Foster Care Fortnight. We talked about it at home and discussed it with the children and decided the time was right.”
The couple have fostered several children including short term placements, an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child and a nine-year-old girl who is now with them on a permanent placement.
Alan, 69, said: “It has been a wonderful experience to see our foster children grow and develop and our own children have a fantastic relationship with their foster brothers and sisters. We couldn’t have done it without the support of our children, it had to be a family decision.
“The way we look at it that we are growing trees, not lettuces. This isn’t an instant job and you aren’t going to see things change overnight. It’s planting that seed and watching that seed grow. That’s the rewarding part.”
Roger Gough, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Education, said: “All Kent children deserve a loving home and this Foster Care Fortnight I would like to thank all our foster carers for the fantastic job they do looking after children in care.
“I’d encourage anyone thinking about fostering to consider opening their home to a child who needs their help.”
To foster with KCC you need to:
- Have a spare bedroom
- Be a full-time resident in the UK or have leave to remain
- To be able to give the time to care for a child or young person, often on a full-time basis
If you are interested in finding out more about Kent Fostering, events will be held on the following dates:
|Thanet||Information event||7pm||June 4, 2019||Corner, 60 Whitehall Road, Ramsgate, CT12 6DF|
|Gravesend||Information event||7pm||July 4, 2019||Eastgate, 141 Springhead, Northfleet, Gravesend DA11 8AD|
|Faversham||Information event||7pm||September 4, 2019||The Alexander Centre C.I.C, 15-17 Preston Street, Faversham, ME13 8NZ|
|Medway||Information stand||9.30am – 5pm||May 14, 2019||Hempstead Valley Shopping Centre, Gillingham, Kent, ME7 3PD|
|Dover||Information stand||9.30am – noon||May 21, 2019||23-24 Biggin St, Dover CT16 1BH|
For details of future events visit at kentfostering.co.uk/events.
Alternatively, call Kent Fostering on 03000 420 002.
Notes for journalists:
Foster carers and council representatives are available to interview.