CARMARTHENSHIRE County Council’s fostering service has joined forces with other Welsh local authorities to become ‘Foster Wales’ – a combined national effort to increase the number and diversity of local authority foster carers.
Despite over a third (39%)* of Welsh adults claiming they have considered becoming a foster carer, there is still need to recruit around 550 new foster carers and families across Wales every year to keep up with the numbers of children who need care and support.
The new national network brings together the 22 not-for-profit local authority fostering teams across Wales.
With decades of experience, they work together and share information and expertise to make a significant national impact on the futures of young people.
Launching Foster Wales Deputy Minister for Social Services, Julie Morgan MS, said: “It is fantastic to be launching Foster Wales. I know from listening to foster carers just how rewarding fostering can be. This new initiative will benefit looked after children and allow Local Authority fostering and recruitment teams across Wales to think bigger, creating a national impact without losing their advantage of specific local expertise.
“This government is committed to reducing the number of children in care, giving care experienced children better outcomes and importantly eliminating the profit element of children in care. Foster Wales is part of achieving this promise and will better enable children to stay in their community and meet the evolving needs of foster children and the people who foster them.”
Across Wales, every child in need of a foster carer is in the care of their local authority, so continually forming relationships within their local communities will help Foster Wales enable children to stay in their local area when it’s right for them.
Local authority teams already share information through regular contact, but just over a quarter (26%) of adults in Wales mistakenly believe fostering services delivered by councils probably aren’t very well joined up across the country.
The move to unify the 22 local authority fostering services under the Foster Wales name therefore seeks to reassure and do justice to the pan-Wales work being undertaken.
Carmarthenshire County Council Executive Board Member for Education and Children’s Services, Cllr Glynog Davies, said: “Significantly increasing the number and diversity of foster carers recruited directly to Local Authorities will enable us to have more choice available when matching a child; finding the right fostering family for each child is key to our ultimate goal of building brighter futures for children in our care.
“In the majority of cases, finding placements for children that keep them in their local area is a great benefit. It keeps them connected to their friends, their school and their sense of identity. It builds confidence and reduces stress. Working with Foster Wales means offering the right local home to a child who needs that opportunity and getting the expert local support and training needed to equip foster carers for the journey ahead.”
Association of Directors of Social Services Cymru, Heads of Children’s Services member Tanya Evans, said: “Becoming a foster carer is a decision to help make a real difference to the lives of children. There are hundreds of children across Wales right now who have a right to thrive and need somebody in their community to support and believe in them.
“Dispelling the myths surrounding foster care is a key task. For example, no two children are the same and neither is the foster care they need. There is no ‘typical’ foster family.
“Whether you own your own home or rent, whether you’re married or single. Whatever your gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity or faith, there are young people in your community who need someone on their side.
“All we need is more people like you to open their doors and welcome them in.”