A major recruitment campaign has started in Swindon to find people who could give vulnerable children and teenagers a home.
Last year, around 350 children and teenagers needed a foster home in Swindon. Keeping children from Swindon in the borough is one of Swindon Borough Council’s pledges, but because of the shortage of foster homes in Swindon, some children are currently having to be placed with foster carers in other areas.
The new ‘Wanted’ campaign has been timed to coincide with national Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from today until 27 May, to throw a spotlight on the shortage and encourage people to come forward to find out more about becoming a foster carer.
The Council currently has around 70 mainstream foster carers and wants to increase that to 100.
Couple Graham and Ruth, of Highworth, have been fostering for 20 years and have had three siblings living with them for six years.
They said: “As you spend time with the children, you can see little changes and they make you realise that this is worth it. As you build up trust, they might share something with you about their lives, and you might be the first person they’ve spoken to about that and that’s a very, very privileged position.
“We really do believe that being foster carers has helped us to develop as people as much as it’s helped the children.”
Nationally, councils are increasingly having to place looked-after children through independent fostering agencies (IFA) that are more expensive than council care. Costs per child can be £20k more through an IFA, which has a major impact on council budgets.
Cllr Fionuala Foley, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “We are committed to keeping our looked-after children in Swindon which is why we need more foster carers in the borough. Keeping a child local is far better for them as they are kept close to their families, friends and schools.
“Settling a child into a foster home and helping them to feel safe and cared for can be comforting in what can be a challenging time for them. Being part of a foster family can be a really positive experience for all those involved so I would urge anyone who has ever thought about becoming a foster carer to get in touch and find out more.”
If you think fostering might be for you, drop-in information sessions are being held across the town throughout Foster Care Fortnight:
- Friday, 18 May (10am – 2.30pm) – Brunel Centre, near Waterstones
- Monday, 21 May (3pm – 6pm) – North Swindon Library, The Orbital Shopping Centre, Thamesdown Drive, SN25 4AN
- Wednesday 23 May will be from 2pm – 5pm (rather than 10am – 1pm).
- Thursday, 24 May (10am – 2pm) – Town Centre, Regent Street
For more information, visit www.swindon.gov.uk/fostering or give the team a call on 07917 503447.