During Foster Care Fortnight, picture life as a foster family in Reading
07 May 2020
A campaign to keep Reading’s children in care in Reading is being stepped up during Foster Care Fortnight (11-24 May).
There are more than 270 children and young people in care in Reading, but many have to be placed outside their home areas due to a shortage of local carers.
Brighter Futures for Children’s (BFfC) Independent Fostering Agency is embarking on a big push to increase the number of foster carers in Reading to keep children near their friends and family.
Foster Care Fortnight is an annual national campaign to raise awareness of fostering and to celebrate the work foster carers do to transform the lives of children and young people.
Antony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children, said:
“Foster carers do an amazing job and I would like to thank them for making such a positive difference to the lives of children and young people in Reading.
“I would urge anyone in Reading who has ever considered being a foster carer to get in contact with us because we need more people to look after our children locally.
“People’s circumstances may have changed in recent weeks due to the current situation and now might be the right time to think of a change in direction – fostering is a wonderful opportunity.
“As well as being a rewarding role, our foster carers receive a great package of training and support and become part of a fantastic network of fellow carers.”
Children and young people should ideally be looked after close to their home, where it is safe to do so, as this allows them to be close to their friends and have contact with their family. This instils a sense of belonging, minimises disruption to their lives and helps them to feel rooted in Reading.
Biri Yaya, BFfC’s Independent Fostering Agency’s Service Manager, said:
“At the moment, we have no choice but to place a lot of children outside of Reading as we do not have a big enough pool of foster carers locally.
“This means we are having to move our children away from their friends, their schools and everything they know.
“That is why, throughout the fortnight, Brighter Futures for Children IFA will be asking people to ‘Picture This’ and imagine life as a foster family. As the general public are currently following government guidelines and socially distancing, we are spreading the word virtually as wide as we can across Reading.”
A virtual information evening is being held on Microsoft Teams between 6-7pm on Thursday 14 May and anyone who is interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org to be sent details.
There is also a Facebook Live Q&A on Friday 22 May, from 11.30am, where visitors can chat to the fostering team on the Brighter Futures for Children Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/BFfCChild/). You can also follow us on social media to hear stories from our foster carers, children in care, foster siblings, care leavers and more.
A fresh new fostering website has just been launched with lots of information, stories and FAQs at www.readingfostering.co.uk. You can also call (0118) 469 3020 or email email@example.com to find out more about fostering in Reading.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
Brighter Futures for Children owns the IFA, which operates in the same independent, not-for-profit way as Brighter Futures for Children does in relation to its owner, Reading Borough Council.
Brighter Futures for Children took over responsibility for the delivery of children’s services, including children’s social care, early help and education services (including SEND) in December 2018 and the fostering service from March 2019.
Brighter Futures for Children IFA was rated ‘Requires Improvement to be Good’ by Ofsted in March 2020.
Marion had long harboured a dream of being a foster carer and the single mum decided to go for it when she was satisfied her two daughters were ready.
She said: “I had to wait until the right time. That point was reached when I felt that my two daughters were old enough to have a proper say in the decision, fully able to understand what was involved, and ready to share their home – and to share me.
“When I did ask them, they were all for it… and it turned out to be one of the best things I have ever done – for them as well as myself.”
Marion’s fostering career began eight years ago, when her children were 13 and 19, and she has never looked back.
She would encourage anyone else thinking of becoming a foster carer to do so.
Marion said: “You may have some concerns about certain aspects and perhaps around how you will cope, but Reading provides lots of training courses to give you the tools you need to deal with the situations that crop up. You can reach out to your Supervising Social Worker, and there is a very good network of foster carers there to give you their advice too.
“It has been one of the best things I’ve ever done – my own daughters have been hugely supportive all the way through, it’s given them a sense of achievement… and I know that they are more understanding people as a result.
“On top of that you know you are making a huge difference to a young child’s life and helping to equip them for what lies ahead.”