Fostering Sunday appeal: homes needed for children in care

PHOTO: 615 shoes on the steps of the Council House to represent the 615 children in need of fostering

People are being urged to open their homes to children in care in Nottingham as part of this year’s Fostering Sunday (12 May).

Ahead of national Foster Care Fortnight, which begins on Monday 13 May, church leaders will take the opportunity to promote fostering to their congregations in Nottingham.

The aim is to highlight the need for more people to become foster carers to give homes to children in the city and explain the numerous advantages of becoming a foster parent, both to the child and the carer themselves. These include:

  • Providing a secure and loving environment
  • Giving a platform for academic stability
  • Experience of family life
  • Satisfaction of helping a vulnerable child
  • Developing a relationship that can last a lifetime

Currently, around 615 children in care in the city are in need of stable, loving homes. To illustrate the point, 615 pairs of shoes were placed on the steps of the Council House in Nottingham’s Old Market Square. The shoes are to be distributed among the different churches taking part on Fostering Sunday before being donated to charity.

Fostering Sunday will also help to promote the 100 Homes appeal, which has been organised by Nottingham City Prayer to help Nottingham City Council find 100 foster carers for children in the city in three years by reaching out to different churches and faith groups.

Alison Michalska, Corporate Director for Children and Adults at Nottingham City Council, said: “Fostering Sunday is a wonderful way to spread the message about fostering. We are delighted that Nottingham churches are supporting our on-going drive to find new foster carers.

“It’s also a great start to Foster Care Fortnight where we hope to encourage more people to change a child’s life and make a difference by becoming a foster carer.”

Michael Lyden, of Nottingham City Prayer, said: “We are a little over a year into the 100 Homes campaign and already have 12 new foster homes approved with another eight in the pipeline!  This great start is already delivering great outcomes for some of the city’s most vulnerable children.

“Yet it feels like we are on the cusp of a much bigger wave that will see the full 100 new homes come in. We understand that not everyone can foster but we do believe that everyone can do something that can make a difference to the city’s most vulnerable children.”

The 615 children in Nottingham are waiting for families to provide a healthy, stable and nurturing home. In particular, Nottingham is looking for homes for older children and also brothers and sisters sibling groups.

People over the age of 21 can foster. The council works with:

  • Individuals and couples of any sexual orientation (married/divorced/living together/same sex/civil partnership)
  • People with or without children
  • Disabled people
  • Home owners or tenants
  • Working and unemployed people
  • Any religious faith or no faith
  • All racial and ethnic backgrounds

Alison added: “Opening your home and your life to vulnerable child is one of the greatest gifts that someone can give back to our City and I’d urge people in Nottingham to consider whether this is something they could offer or support.”

The next friendly and informal fostering information evening with Nottingham City Council is on Tuesday 21 May at Loxley House from 6.30pm to 8.30pm. To find out more, visit www.fosteringnottingham.com

The next 100 Homes Information Evening on 12 June at 7.30pm in Trent Vineyard. For more information, visit https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/100-homes-information-evening-june-2019-tickets-54343880008.

Case Study: Steve and Jane Silvester

The Rev Canon Steve Silvester is the rector of St Nic’s Church on Maid Marian Way in Nottingham. He and his wife Jane helped to create the 100 Homes appeal and have now been approved as foster carers with Nottingham City Council. They are due to have their first child placed with them later in the summer.

Steve said: “I was involved in setting up the 100 Homes appeal in Nottingham, so this has been an important step for me – to shift from organising a campaign to recruit foster carers to actually becoming a foster carer.

“The process of becoming a foster carer has been a really positive experience for Jane and me. The induction was excellent – we were able to meet real foster carers and have an open conversation about how the process works. Throughout the process, our social worker was tireless in supporting us with our application. For me, the best part was when we were approved as foster carers by the panel at the council – we were taken straight out of the panel to meet the whole fostering team; we really felt like we were part of the team – and you can tell how proud they all are of the work they do.

“I’m 60 and have three children who have grown up and left home. We have one grandchild already and another on the way. Jane and I are blessed with the family we have, but we believe we have room in our lives for another child now. We have more to offer.

“It shows that age isn’t a barrier. I’m under no illusions that it will be hard work, but working in this church has made me realise that there is a massive need for parenting.

“I think as foster carer you need to have a capacity to love. Having had children already, there are all sorts of skills you have as a parent – but through the application process, I realised that there are a whole range of other skills you need as a foster carer. It’s a big job – but you have to be willing to love them, to give them your time and energy and effort.

“I hope we bring maturity and experience – as well as a large support network of friends and family. We both have experience of teaching so we are used to supporting children and young people.

“For the children, we hope we can offer safety and stability – and make sure the children have a sense of their own worth. It’s about being in a partnership to ensure the best outcome for the children.

“If anyone is thinking about fostering, I would urge them to make an inquiry – find out what’s involved. There’s no pressure. It’s just important to take that first step.”

Fostering with Nottingham City Council

Visit www.fosteringnottingham.com

Fostering may be unlike anything you have ever done before. It is very rewarding as you see the children grow and develop and perhaps go home when their situation has improved or move on to a permanent family.

Foster carers need to:

  • Provide a safe, healthy and nurturing home for a child
  • Show personal warmth to adults and children
  • Value diversity and encourage the child/ren to have a positive understanding of their origins, religion and culture
  • Understand other people’s points of view and feelings, and to be sensitive to others
  • Enable children and young people who are moving on to do so in a positive manner
  • Listen to children
  • Manage children’s behaviour with appropriate boundaries
  • Create supportive relationships with the child/ren’s family, friends and community
  • Value a child’s history and its importance to them

Frequently asked questions about fostering

Q: I have children of my own, can I foster?
A: Yes.

Q: Can I foster if unemployed?
A: It does not matter if you are working or not, we are looking for people who can offer a caring family. We do ask about family finances but this applies to working applicants too.

Q: Am I too young or old to foster?
A: If you are over 21 and can provide a stable and caring home, you can foster. There is no upper age limit.

Q: Is fostering only for married couples?
A: No. We welcome people who are married, single, living together or in a civil partnership.

Q: Can I foster if I’m gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender?
A: Yes. We welcome applications from couples in same-sex relationships or single, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender people. We also welcome people from culturally-diverse backgrounds.

Q: Can I continue working?
A: Yes. If you work full-time there are some types of fostering that may be more suited to you than others. This will be discussed during your assessment. Part-time working is fine too.

Q: How long does the assessment process take?
A: It takes on average six months from application to approval to become a foster carer. For carers transferring from an independent agency this time is reduced.

Q: Will I get paid as a foster carer?
A: You will get paid a generous weekly allowance which varies according to the child’s age and number of children you foster. There are some additional payments to cover the costs of birthdays, other events, equipment and mileage.

Q: I would find it too difficult to handle when a child leaves my care.
A: This is a normal and natural reaction, as foster carers will get attached to the children in their care. It is exactly these type of individuals, who will provide a nurturing home for children in care, that we want as our foster carers. All of our foster carers have an allocated Fostering Social Worker who will provide a lot of support, especially when a child moves from your care. A number of our foster carers remain in contact following their move.

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