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How you could make a difference to a child's future

PUBLISHED: 16:26 31 January 2019 | UPDATED: 13:14 05 February 2019

Helping a child feel safe and have some joy in their life is the aim of a foster parent. Picture Getty Images

Helping a child feel safe and have some joy in their life is the aim of a foster parent. Picture Getty Images

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Norfolk foster care: Everything you need to know about fostering

Children needing foster carers come from a wide range of backgrounds. Picture Getty ImagesChildren needing foster carers come from a wide range of backgrounds. Picture Getty Images

Could you care for a child? Are you able to nurture a child? Could you give them a safe home, a clean bed and enough to eat? But more importantly, would you like to have the chance to make a real difference to the life of a child. What could be more rewarding?

Children need someone to trust, talk to and celebrate achievements with. Everyday comforts most children take for granted are exactly what children seeking a foster home in Norfolk are looking for. By fostering a child in your local area you can help a young person find safety and stability in their lives after having to leave their family home.

They need the support of caring foster carer to help them be everything they can be.

Becoming a foster carer could seem a little daunting and you may feel you need to have a special skill set, but this is not the case.

A team of Foster Carer Ambassadors will help support and nurture you through the whole process, as well as Norfolk County Council Fostering Service supplying you with the Skills to Foster training programme and your own recruiting social worker making sure you are well-prepared on the journey to becoming a foster carer.

Foster parents may be single or a couple, with or without their own children, but all want to make a difference to a child's life. Picture; Getty ImagesFoster parents may be single or a couple, with or without their own children, but all want to make a difference to a child's life. Picture; Getty Images

Are you someone with patience, understanding and a sense of humour? Are you warm and nurturing? People from all walks of life and backgrounds are foster carers in Norfolk – and you could join them.

There are children right now in Norfolk who need a loving and nurturing foster home; children of all ages from babies to teenagers who cannot currently stay with their parents.

Foster carers can, and do, make a real difference to the lives of children and young people who come into their care.

They do this by giving them security, stability, and support at a crucial time in their lives.

Tracy Collins, Interim Head of Fostering of Norfolk County Council’s Fostering Service, says: “The children may be feeling lost, upset, angry, confused or sad. They need a home and an adult who will care for them – and bring some joy into their lives. Our foster carers often tell us that becoming a foster carer has been the most rewarding experience of their life and have lots of inspiring fostering stories to share.”

Those precious moments that show you care make all the difference to child in foster care. Picture Ivan Jekic/  Getty ImagesThose precious moments that show you care make all the difference to child in foster care. Picture Ivan Jekic/ Getty Images

You will need to be able to provide a room for the child oryoung person where they will feel safe. You will need energy, compassion and have an aptitude to listen and not judge.

Foster carers may be parents, or grandparents, childless, be married, have disabilities, be single or be in a same sex relationship. They may have their own children at home or have children who have grown up and left home.

Tracy says there are many children with differing needs who would benefit from being part of a foster family.

“We are looking for foster carers to care for asylum-seeking children, siblings who need to stay together, toddlers, teenagers, babies, children at primary school, children at high school and children with special needs, children who should be in foster care and not in residential placements.

“There is a perception that teenagers can be challenging to look after, with many people preferring to offer homes to younger children. Helping a young person to trust and manage difficulties in life, whilst supporting them with their independence is a very rewarding experience. The experience you give them would be a precious gift to a teenager looking for guidance,” she adds.

Norfolk Fostering Service helps potential foster carers to consider who they could care for, with a training programme and continual support and advice available round the clock.

Some children will arrive having been abused or neglected or with drug or alcohol issues or have suffered extreme trauma, others may have special needs. The Norfolk Fostering Service offers full training so foster carers have the confidence and skills to help these children.

Foster care ambassadors – current foster carers in Norfolk – buddy-up with new foster carers to offer extra support and a listening ear when needed.

Some foster parents offer short term fostering when children stay for up to a few weeks, others may have children for the remainder of their childhood, others may be respite or emergency foster carers and have children for short periods of time, such as for one weekend a month to give the natural parents – or long term foster carers – a regular break.

Foster carers are paid an allowance when they have a child in their care, but foster carers prioritise the emotional achievement and knowing that they are making a difference to a child’s life, says Tracy.

Those wondering if becoming a foster carer is for them can go along to a information event (frequently held in libraries around the county) or talk to a social worker to find out more.

Those interested complete a straightforward form and are visited by a social worker for an initial assessment. A free Skills to Foster course is designed to help people think about the realities of being a foster carer and, for those keen to continue, a full assessment over about four months takes place.

This includes about eight visits from a social worker to discuss the potential foster carer, their family and experiences of looking after children. A detailed report is prepared and shared with the carer before going to a fostering panel for a recommendation. When carers become approved foster carers they work closely with a social worker to identify children who will be a good match for them. The support and training continues when children are placed in their care to ensure the partnership is working well for children and foster carers.

Those interested and wanting to find our more call 01603 306649 or visit the Norfolk Fostering Services facebook page. www.facebook.com/norfolkfosteringservice

A NORFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL FOSTER CARER SHARES HER STORY

“I am a single carer and I look after two sisters. I look at these two little girls and I feel in awe. I look back at myself and think I could never be as brave as they are.

I am so moved when I look at them. I can sit and feel what they have been through and wonder how can you cope with what life has given you? All I do is care for them, they wake up in the morning and all they want to do is smile at me and hug me.”

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