To address the urgent need for foster carers, Surrey County Council is launching a myth-busting campaign to encourage residents not to rule out fostering. The campaign, “making your ordinary, their extraordinary” explains that the eligibility criteria is reflective of modern households and it’s the everyday activities like walking, talking and cooking that have the most impact on a child’s life. It is often thought that you need to own your home or be married to foster but you can be married, single, living together, in a civil partnership or divorced and you can rent or own your home.
Too often, due to a lack of foster carers, children are placed in care or with foster families away from their local communities, and sibling groups are separated. This warning comes from the UK’s leading fostering charity, The Fostering Network, and Surrey County Council’s fostering team. This issue is highlighted during Foster Care Fortnight (9-22 May), the charity’s annual awareness raising campaign, as they call for more people to come forward to foster, to ensure that children in need of a foster home can be cared for locally.
Clare Curran, lead Cabinet Member for Children and Families at Surrey County Council said: “We are calling on people to open their hearts and homes and foster, to make sure that Surrey’s children can be cared for in their local community. Fostering really can make a huge difference to children and young people and we offer a strong carer support network as a local authority, so you’ll be able to draw on training offers and experiences of others – we really are Surrey’s biggest family. There are a lot of misconceptions around the eligibility criteria, so I encourage you to find out more information before ruling fostering out. You can become a foster carer no matter your age, gender, relationship status or sexual orientation.”
Brenda, a foster carer in Surrey said: “I’m a much better person for having fostered. I have a much bigger heart and a broader outlook. The more you give, the more you get back. What children need is time, not expensive possessions. When you see the children arrive and then later see them go out of the door, and notice the change in them, it makes it all worthwhile”.
An anonymous Surrey care leaver said: “My last foster family, I was with for 5 years before moving on to live independently. They were like my real family in that sense. They supported me with independent skills and with my education so that my life beyond them would be stable and comfortable. To this day, they are still a part of my life and I will be forever grateful to them for what they have done for me. If anyone is thinking about becoming a foster carer, I would say do it. You would make such a difference to a young person’s life as it shows that many people are willing to provide love and support for us foster children/care leavers. There will be ups and downs, but the overall reward is knowing you’ve made a real impact.”
Foster carers provide support and care in a family setting and enable children to stay in the local community that is familiar to them. This minimises further disruption to their lives by helping them stay in their school, close to their friends, and maintaining connections with other family members. Each child’s circumstances and needs are different, but every child has the right to have their needs met within their own community.
Open your heart and home to a child in your local community and make your ordinary, a child’s extraordinary. Find out more about fostering and how you can join Surrey’s biggest family here: Fostering – Surrey County Council (surreycc.gov.uk)