Foster carers from across Staffordshire are leading a new campaign to help highlight the urgent need to find more foster families.

Every year, tens of thousands of children across the UK need someone to provide foster care and in Staffordshire alone, 60 more foster families need to be found this year.

#WhyWeCare is the latest campaign by the Fostering Network as part of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight which started on 10 May 2021.

Maxine-and-alan-francis-staffordshire
Maxine and Alan Francis

Talking about their experiences of being Staffordshire foster carers, Maxine and Alan Francis said: “We had our first children come to live with us during lockdown, which presented a few extra challenges but we had lots of online support from the council to make sure things ran smoothly. The children stayed with us for 9 months before moving on to live with their grandparents. Even in that short time of fostering them, we could see the difference it made. It also gave us a real sense of achievement knowing  we had made a positive difference to their lives.

“We currently have an 8 month old with us who is making great progress and knowing we have played a part in that is very rewarding too. We would encourage anyone thinking of fostering to just go for it, it’s an amazing thing to do.”

Staffordshire County Council’s Fostering Service are backing the campaign with a series of online events and videos to help find families for some of the county’s most vulnerable children.

Peter-taunton-Stafford-Town-crier
Peter Taunton

Stafford Town Crier Peter Taunton officially launched the campaign on 10 May,  and a series of videos featuring current foster carers and a Facebook live information event will take place on Friday 14 May, to start the conversation and help people take that first step. Details of the events are available at www.fosterforstaffordshire.co.uk

Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council (main image) said: “Foster care Fortnight is always a great celebration of our amazing foster families and the work they do to make sure children have a safe and loving home. It’s great that our foster carers are taking a lead on the campaign and by sharing their experiences they are encouraging others to consider becoming a foster carer.

“We are always looking for foster families to come forward and remember, people from all backgrounds can and do foster. As a foster carer for Staffordshire, you’re never on your own. There’s always advice on hand and lots of training available. And this year, we are especially looking for foster carers for teenagers, sibling groups and children with additional needs too, so please get in touch with us if you think you can make a difference.”

Kelly Rowland is also sharing her experiences of how fostering has transformed her family’s life and the young people they’ve looked after. Kelly said: “We’ve been fostering for 17 years now and I have to say it’s a great thing to do. Fostering can be challenging and emotional at times but it’s so rewarding and worth it when you see the children you care for gain confidence and strive in life.”

Cliff Whiteley has been a foster carer with Staffordshire County Council for over 20 years. He said: “Fostering is a brilliant thing to do. It offers some fantastic rewards like making a difference to a child without making that child feel different. It also keeps you young and comes with great support and training from your local council authority. Most people can foster and everyone has life skills they can pass on to a foster child too.  I’d urge anyone thinking about it to go ahead and take that first step by getting in touch with the team.”

Cathy Thacker and husband Neal who have been fostering for Staffordshire since 2014 said: “We mainly foster babies, although the oldest child we have had was almost 6. By far the most challenging thing about fostering is saying goodbye to the children that you have grown to love like your own but knowing you have made a difference is really rewarding.”

People can find out more about fostering with Staffordshire County Council on Facebook @fosterforstaffs or by calling 0800 169 2061.

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