More than 10 foster families are urgently needed in Wokingham Borough, with demand on services set to increase due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
One of the pressures of the lockdown measures to manage COVID-19 is an increase in domestic abuse. Nationally, charity Refuge has seen a 700 per cent increase in visits to its website and a 25 per cent increase in the number of calls to the National Domestic Abuse helpline. We know from the backgrounds and histories of foster children and young people that some have been exposed to the damaging impact of domestic violence.
Children will need foster carers during the Coronavirus pandemic and in the future, which is why we’re still recruiting. Our foster carers are amazing and here’s your chance to join them and make a lasting difference. More than ever we are looking for new or experienced foster carers for local children who need caring families living in or close to Wokingham Borough.
With the annual Foster Care Fortnight (11 to 24 May) campaign still going ahead the council wants to reach out and find would-be foster carers for children including teenagers, siblings, asylum seekers and children with disabilities who desperately need foster carers in the borough.
They will join the 64 Wokingham Borough Council fostering homes for some of its children and young people in care who want to be fostered close to their families and friends in the borough. The council has ramped up its support for these families during COVID-19 by doubling their efforts during the lockdown to keep in touch with foster carers by phone and Skype video. Regular news emails for foster carers to share ideas and general Covid-19 news updates are being sent out and a free yoga session.
The council always looks for homes for the 100 plus children and young people currently in care with its own council carers first. Additional financial assistance in the form of council tax exemption is offered as part of a wide range of benefits and incentives.
“We have 64 foster carer households who do vital work providing a loving and nurturing home for young people in our borough,” said Cllr UllaKarin Clark, executive member for children’s services. “We know coronavirus has caused people to lose their jobs and some could be looking for a new way to earn a living. Fostering changes lives and keeps young people close to their friends and families, so talk to our team about it.
“As a career, our foster carers also find it enormously rewarding. Children go into foster care for all sorts of reasons, through no fault of their own, but the work our foster carers do gives youngsters a happier and more supported life. We are really grateful to them and value them enormously. Please give some thought as to whether you could be one of these special people.”
Regardless of culture, background, sexual orientation and whether you are a homeowner or tenant, if you have a spare room, are aged 21 and over with life experience, live within twenty miles of the borough and have time for a child, you could foster. What matters most, is that you are the right family or person for our children.
As a foster carer, the council offers attractive remuneration packages, council tax exemption, excellent training including a specialist therapeutic programme, as well as one-to-one and out-of-hours support. Fees increase with experience often resulting in the equivalent of a reasonable salary, which could provide a complete change of career. For example, an experienced foster carer at Level 2, who cares for two children all year, could earn more than £25,000 p.a. excluding allowances for the child.
During Foster Care Fortnight, the council is holding a drop-in virtual information event on Wednesday May 20, between 6pm and 8pm. Foster carers will share their experiences and discuss the positive life changes created for the children and young people involved.
Anyone interested is invited to email and we’ll make arrangements. The application process is friendly, supportive and quicker than you might think. The council is still actively recruiting, continuing with new fostering enquiries and applications by phone calls and virtual visits.