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Join Conwy foster carers to support local children in care


February 14, 2024 - 468 views

Foster Wales Conwy has joined the new campaign, ‘Bring Something to the Table,’ utilising their greatest asset – current foster carers – to share realistic experiences of foster care and explore the small but significant human attributes people possess that can make the world of difference to a young person in care.

There are more than 7,000 children in the care system in Wales, but only 3,800 foster families.

There are currently over 40 local authority foster carers in Conwy, but at least 20 additional foster carers are needed to ensure that children can stay in their local community, when it’s right for them.

Maethu Cymru / Foster Wales - the national network of 22 Welsh local authority fostering teams – have set out with the bold aim of recruiting over 800 new foster families by 2026, to provide welcoming homes for local children and young people.

Foster Wales has spoken to over 100 people to develop the campaign– including foster carers, social workers, teachers, members of the public, and care leavers.
 
The responses from these groups highlighted three key things stopping potential carers from enquiring:
 
- A lack of confidence in their skills and ability to support a child in care.
-  The belief that fostering doesn’t fit with certain lifestyles.
- Misconceptions around the criteria to become a carer.
 
Armed with this knowledge, Foster Wales has drawn on real stories of carers in Wales to show that local authority fostering is flexible, inclusive, and comes with extensive training and professional development opportunities.
 
Marie, along with her husband Mark and their two teenage daughters Eleri and Catrin, have been fostering with their local authority Foster Wales Conwy since 2019. To fit in with the dynamics of the home and the age of their own children, who are now 15 and 13, they do short-term fostering and have chosen to foster younger children, for now.

Marie believes that fostering has a positive impact on everyone in the household.

“Fostering is really impactful,” says Marie. “It has done our own children the world of good. It has shaped their personalities and they’ve gained so many valuable life skills.

“They’ve also come to understand the stigma around children in foster care and how it needs to be addressed in society.”

Foster carers come from all types of different backgrounds, lifestyles and family units. You don't need to have children of your own to foster. What matters most are the skills, the outlook and the experience you bring.

“You don’t need to be a special person or family to foster”, Marie added. “All you need is some time, space in your home and a big heart.

“People will often say things to me like ‘what you’re doing is amazing’ or ‘these children are so lucky to have you’. But I don’t see it like that at all. I feel like we are the lucky ones to have these children in our lives.

“To me, fostering is all about reuniting families and I will always do what I can to make that happen.”
 
Currently, Wales is in the process of a whole system change for children’s services. The changes proposed in the 2021 co-operation agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru made a clear commitment to ‘eliminate private profit from the care of looked after children.’
 
This means, by 2027, care of children that are looked after in Wales will be provided by public sector, charitable or not-for-profit organisations, and the need for local authority foster carers is greater than ever.
 
Cllr Liz Roberts, Cabinet Member for Children, Families and Safeguarding, said: "Our local authority foster carers in Conwy do an incredible job, supporting children and young people by offering their skills, experience, empathy and kindness to ensure they feel safe and secure.

“But we need to recruit more amazing people in the area to ensure that all local children who need it have a welcoming home and the right foster carer for them.

“When you foster with Foster Wales Conwy, you will have access to dedicated local knowledge and support, a brilliant learning and development package and more importantly, you can help children stay in their own local community, close to friends, their school and everything they hold close.

“We encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to a child’s life to bring their skills and experience to the table and get in contact with the Foster Wales Conwy team.”

The campaign can be seen across TV, streaming services, radio, digital, social media, and with various events in local communities across Wales.

For more information about fostering, or to make an enquiry, visit: www.fosterwales.conwy.gov.uk.