Safe, warm and loving homes are needed in Horsham for children and young people.
That’s the message from West Sussex County Council as part of Foster Care Fortnight - an annual campaign run by the Fostering Network - which takes place this year from Monday May 13 until Sunday May 26 and aims to highlight the need for more foster carers.
Foster homes offer children and young people a stable family environment while their own parents are unable to look after them.
Stuart Gallimore, Director of Children’s Services at West Sussex County Council, said: “We try to place children with carers in their local area to enable them to remain close to their school and friends, as well as people and places they know.
“We are always looking for new foster carers from across the county to come forward.
“People from a variety of backgrounds can apply to foster, regardless of marital status or sexuality.
“But it is important that our carers have personal skills like patience, a good sense of humour, tolerance, energy and ability to treat children and young people as individuals.”
Graham and Sarah, from the Horsham area, have been foster carers for nine years.
Graham said: “Over the years, we have fostered a number of children, from very young children to older teenagers.
“It is challenging – every child has different needs and you need to quickly discover how you can best support and help them.
“But it is also extremely rewarding to watch a child who has been through – and may still be going through – difficult experiences, start to grow and develop as an individual.
“Our own sons, who are all grown up now, have been very involved throughout and two of them have even expressed an interest in fostering themselves in the future.”
Foster carers receive a comprehensive support package from the county council, including on-going training and financial allowances to meet the needs of the children in their care.
Sarah added: “We have had a lot of help from the County Council.
“Social workers are readily available to answer questions or offer guidance, which has been really helpful.
“My advice to anyone considering fostering would be to get in touch with Fostering Recruitment Team.
“They will walk you through the process. It will help you to discover what you can offer and if it is right for you.”
If you are interested in fostering and would like to find out more, please visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fostering for further information or call 01403 229333.
An informal fostering drop-in session is being held during Foster Care Fortnight at Horsham Library on Wednesday May 22 from 10am to 4pm, where existing foster carers and members of the recruitment team will be on hand to answer questions.