SOME of the issues that local people have brought to my attention have made me aware that West Sussex County Council is in the midst of a 12 month campaign to recruit more foster carers.
It’s surprising how often fostering and adoption crop-up in conversation with people in and around Horsham – they may foster or they mention that they were fostered or adopted during a discussion on a seemingly completely different matter.
I’m therefore very much aware of the short-term impact that good – and indeed bad - foster care has on children and I’m also aware of the affect it can have on the rest of their lives.
Fostering means caring for a child in your own home and WSCC is keen to find more people to do just that. Often children only need to be looked after for a short time – a few days, perhaps - but some children end up being permanently fostered or adopted. Reasons for fostering vary enormously and could be down to an ill parent or an abusive home-life.
At any one time there will be thousands of children around the country requiring foster care and so demand for carers is high – that goes for West Sussex too.
I think it’s fair to say that not everyone would make a good foster carer – you have to have real passion for the process and you need to be totally committed to making a difference to children’s lives. Not everyone would feel comfortable sharing their home with an unfamiliar child or young adult.
If you do find the prospect of fostering appealing, don’t be put off by some common misconceptions: you don’t have to married, or even part of a couple. Being gay doesn’t rule you out either and many local authorities take applications from people in their 20s, right up to their 60s.
A foster home can be any shape, any size and you don’t need to have a certain amount in the bank – you just have to be willing and able to provide the safe and secure environment that every child needs and deserves.
Foster carers can sometimes be called upon to look after a baby and their parent(s) – perhaps a court has decided that the parent is unable to care adequately for their baby and that both need the support of living with a foster carer or family.
Suffice to say, fostering is extremely interesting and – I’ve been told on numerous occasions - deeply rewarding.
A lot more information is available at: westsussex.gov.uk/fostering and WSCC holds drop-in events around the county which are an ideal opportunity to ask lots of questions and learn more about what’s involved – including foster carer allowances and other support.
MP for Horsham