On average, one child comes into care in Essex every 15 hours. At the end of March 2012 there were 1,498 children in care in Essex, with 581 new children becoming looked after during the year.
The figures have been released by Essex County Council to coincide with Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from Monday 14 May to Sunday 27 May 2012.
In line with the national picture, the numbers of children being taken into care in Essex have been rising since 2007. This means that more foster care families are needed to provide a caring and safe home for children who are unable to live with their birth families.
Essex County Council is using Foster Care Fortnight to highlight the vital role that foster carers play in caring for Essex’s looked after children and to encourage potential carers with the right skills and qualities to come forward.
Anyone can apply to foster but some people are more suited to fostering than others. Potential carers will need the time, commitment and personal qualities to be able to care for a child who has been separated from their birth family. Unless they are fostering a child under the age of two, they will also need the space in their house to provide a separate bedroom. There is no upper age limit and applications are welcome from single people as well as married or cohabiting couples. Applications are welcome from gay and lesbian carers.
The county council particularly welcomes applications from people who are willing to consider fostering siblings, older children, children with disabilities, and parent and child placements because these are the children for whom there is the greatest shortage of carers.
Foster carers are paid a fee, which varies with skills and experience, and also receive a generous allowance to cover the daily living expenses of the child or children. Full training and continuing professional development is given and carers are supported by a supervising social worker and a 24-hour helpline.
An information event is being held at County Hall, Chelmsford on Saturday 26 May with presentations at 11am and 12.30pm. This is a great opportunity for potential carers to find out more and to chat to experienced foster carers about what’s involved.
There will also be stands at the following venues where experienced foster carers will be available for an informal chat. These will be staffed from 10am to 3pm.
- Monday 14 May, Epping High Street
- Tuesday 15 May, Waitrose, St Andrews Avenue, Colchester
- Wednesday 16 May, Tescos, Market Place, Braintree
- Wednesday 16 May, Morrisons, Clacton
- Thursday 17 May, Asda, Eastgate Shopping Centre, Basildon
- Thursday 17 May, Jackson Square Shopping Centre, Bishops Stortford
- Monday 21 May, Loughton Library, Traps Hill
- Thursday 24 May, The Water Gardens Shopping Centre, Harlow
- Saturday 26 May, High Chelmer Shopping Centre, Chelmsford
County Councillor Sarah Candy, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services said: “Sadly, for a variety of reasons, there will always be a number of children who cannot live with their birth families. Fostering isn’t always easy but it offers the opportunity to make a huge difference to the lives of children and can be hugely rewarding. If you think you’ve got right skills and qualities, then I’d urge you to get in touch or to attend one of the many events running around the county during Foster Care Fortnight.”
To find out more about fostering visit www.essex.gov.uk/fostering or call 0800 801 530.