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Foster Care Fortnight: Why keeping children in care rooted in Reading makes a difference

10 May 2021

Brighter Futures for Children’s Independent Fostering Agency (IFA) is encouraging the people of Reading to learn more about being a foster carer during Foster Care Fortnight, which runs from 10-23 May 2021.

In Reading we have, on average, 270 children and young people in our care. We would like as many of them as possible to stay in the borough with a loving family.

Where it is safe to do so, children and young people have told us they would prefer to be looked after close to home. This means they can stay at their school, be near their friends and, if possible, have contact with their family. This instils a sense of belonging and minimises disruption to their lives.

We do not have enough local foster carers in Reading so some young people, like 15-year-old Nick*, have had to move away.

Nick had the idea of planting a cherry blossom tree in central Reading, to help himself and other young people in care to feel ‘rooted’ in the town. We collaborated with Nick and Ethical Reading, Reading Borough Council and Reading Tree Wardens to make that idea a reality.

Planted outside Reading Town Hall in February 2020, the Rooted in Reading tree is a powerful symbol of connection for Reading children and young people in care, especially those living further away.

Throughout Foster Care Fortnight, Brighter Futures for Children’s IFA is encouraging people to visit the tree to read the lovely messages that young people have shared about why it is important for them to stay rooted in Reading.

Foster carer Rachel* said: “Children who are in foster care experience so much change and loss in their lives. Helping them to remain in Reading means they can stay connected to friends and makes things like staying at their school and having time with family members much easier. They need as much stability and security as we can provide – being rooted in Reading can really make a difference.”

Di Smith, Board Chair of Brighter Futures for Children, said: “Our wonderful foster carers play a vital role in the lives of children and young people in care and I would like to thank them all.

“We want to keep Reading children in Reading and we need more local people to become foster carers to make that happen.

“I would urge anyone who has thought about foster caring to contact us to find out more. As well as being a rewarding role, our foster carers receive a great package of training and support and become part of a friendly network of fellow carers.”

Brighter Futures for Children staff and foster carers are hosting a stall on Broad Street on Thursday 20 May and an online information session on Tuesday 25 May at 5.30pm, for people to learn more about fostering. To join and find out how you could help keep a young person, like Nick, rooted in Reading, visit our website at www.readingfostering.co.uk, calling 0118 469 3020 or email foster@brighterfuturesforchildren.org.

*Names have been changed to protect identities.

NOTES TO EDITORS:

Brighter Futures for Children took over the responsibility for the delivery of children’s services in Reading, including children’s social care, early help, education services (including SEND) in December 2018 and the fostering service from March 2019.

Foster carer Rachel* is available for media interviews. Please contact David.millward1@brighterfuturesforchildren.org to arrange.