Stoke-on-Trent City Council has been awarded Foster Friendly status, the Fostering Network’s programme to encourage employers to support fostering, and in particular, foster carers.
To be recognised as a Fostering Friendly employer the city council has had to demonstrate its support for employees, making the workplace friendlier for foster carers to benefit the children in their care and also making it easier for people to consider fostering. Following a full council meeting in the summer where councillors unanimously agreed to endorse a further package of support linked to fostering, the city council recently launched a new fostering friendly policy for all its employees which sets out a number of benefits for any staff member who decides to come forward to become a foster carer – including flexible working arrangements and paid time off for those going through the foster carer approval process.
The city council is urging other employers in Stoke-on-Trent to pledge their support to fostering and foster carers by encouraging them to adopt fostering friendly policies and apply for fostering friendly status.
Councillor Dave Evans, cabinet member for children and young people said: “The contribution that foster carers make to society and the lives of children is invaluable. People often think that they can’t foster if they work full-time – this is absolutely not the case, however it may be that they need some flexibility in their working arrangements in order to meet the needs of the child. As one of the city’s biggest employers we want to show our commitment to fostering and make it as easy as possible for our staff members to become approved foster carers.
“Being recognised as a Fostering Friendly employer is a great achievement. Children are our number one priority in Stoke-on-Trent and we all have a responsibility to invest in, protect and nurture young people in the city to ensure they all have the best possible start in life. As part of our Powering Up Stoke-on-Trent campaign we want to work with businesses and organisations across the city so we can collectively support children and the foster carers who do such an amazing job, helping to ensure our most vulnerable young people are happy, healthy and safe. I’d like to encourage other employers in the city to follow our lead and think about how they can better support their staff to become foster carers and ultimately make a difference to young people in Stoke-on-Trent.”
Rachel and George Hurd have been fostering for Stoke-on-Trent City Council for seven years. Rachel said: “It feels good to know that you are doing your bit to keep our local children in the city where they belong. They maintain the familiarity of the area and it’s easy for families to maintain contact. We feel honoured to care for the children that come into our home, we really are proud to be a part of the Stoke-on-Trent fostering family.”
The accreditations come at a time when more than 980 children are being cared for in the city. There is still a huge need for more foster carers in Stoke-on-Trent and the situation has been intensified as result of coronavirus impacting on families. If you would like to know more about becoming a foster carer in Stoke-on-Trent then why not start your fostering journey by visiting www.stoke.gov.uk/fostering or calling 01782 234555.