Kent County Council (KCC) is backing the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight campaign (10-23 May), the UK’s biggest foster carer recruitment campaign.
The council needs to recruit 120 new households to provide day-to-day support, love and stability to vulnerable children and young people who cannot live with their birth families or offer a struggling parent a loving home where they can develop their parenting skills.
Jo Prime is a single foster carer and Mum to her own three grown up daughters: “After I divorced 15 years ago, I left my career in banking and started working for a local nursery. Working with under 2’s, I gained a level 3 qualification on “Children and Attachment” and worked with the Special Educational Needs and “looked after” children within the nursery. I then considered fostering as another alternative role working with children which I subsequently pursued.
“Initially, I was matched with a young girl (then aged 8 years old) who had not been able to settle in a foster family and her social workers were looking at ways to help her to feel safe and secure in foster care. She was going through the Therapeutic Fostering Program, however she settled within our family and home and I went to panel and was approved as a Therapeutic Foster Carer. I later took the child on permanency (she is now 14).
“I think that Kent Fostering are truly an amazing service to work for. The training and support from both staff and other Foster Carers are like nothing I have ever experienced in any previous job. As a single carer and often the only adult at home, there has never been a time in the past five and a half years as a Foster Carer that I haven’t felt supported.”
This year, KCC is seeking to recruit a wide and diverse range of people regardless of age, disability, ethnicity, gender identification, religion, or sexual orientation. Carers can be single or in a relationship, own or rent their own home, have their own children or be child-free. Carers for children and teenagers are needed with a particular focus on carers for sibling groups, emergency bed and parent and child placements.
Jackie West has been a Kent Foster Carer for 15 years: “My husband is White British, and I am Black Jamaican, and we have three children of our own.
“When we initially considered fostering, we felt we could perhaps offer a different experience to children in care from a range of backgrounds because we are a mixed-race couple.
“Initially, we mainly cared for White children and did wonder if they would find it difficult settling within a multi-cultural family. However, if they did, no one ever said anything! We have now looked after more than 30 children and have a lovely extended, multi-racial family. We currently have a young person from Afghanistan, a girl of African background and a White British child living with us as part of our family. We all get on well and we often learn from each other – it just works!
“As foster carers and regardless of our own backgrounds, I think it is all about meeting the needs of the children as individuals. It is important to respect the children’s identity, their family’s culture and find ways to learn, understand and take an interest in where they are from and what makes them who they are.
“Alongside celebrating and supporting the identities of all children in our care, we also try to educate and prepare them for potential difficulties they might face in the wider community, giving them strategies to manage challenge and we try to teach them tolerance and understanding, even when they may not receive this from others.”
Sue Chandler, Cabinet Member for Integrated Children’s services said:
“I am delighted to be celebrating the wonderful work of our foster carers in Kent for Foster Care Fortnight once again. I would like to thank them all for the life changing experience they offer some of our most vulnerable children by welcoming them into their loving homes and providing safety and stability.
“This year the Council aims to recruit 120 new foster carers across the county. We need foster homes for children of all ages but particularly for older children, brothers and sisters who need to stay together and disabled children. We would also like to recruit more carers who could offer Emergency Beds at short notice and Supported Home Carers to help young people adjust to leaving full time care and living independently. I would like to encourage anyone thinking about fostering to get in touch with our helpful team for an informal chat and more information.”
To foster with KCC Kent Fostering 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.
In return you will receive an excellent reward package including financial benefits, local training, career progression, holiday entitlement and 24-hour support.
If you are interested in finding out more about Kent Fostering visit kentfostering.co.uk or call us on 03000 42 00 02 to find out more.
Do something amazing today and Foster for Kent.