From families, social workers, to the local community, there is a full support network available for those who are considering foster caring.
Durham County Council is supporting this year’s Foster Care Fortnight, running until Sunday 22 May, by sharing information and stories from existing foster carers about the support available for those looking to take the first step.
With this year’s theme being Fostering Communities, the council wants to show how much support is accessible for those who wish to foster care, from not only its fostering service but also the wider community.
In County Durham, the county’s foster carers receive a range of support from everyone involved in the process, from administration staff who help with registering, social workers who support the family, to local businesses which provide resources to help the child, and peer support from other foster carers.
Karen and Paul, from Durham, decided to foster children after Karen’s parents had fostered for 25 years.
Having seen the rewards that fostering can bring, Karen and Paul decided to start fostering when their own child had grown up and left home and have been doing so for 18 years.
The couple was recognised for its commitment at this year’s Foster Care Star Awards, receiving an award for achieving over 15 years of fostering.
Karen said: “The highlight for us has definitely been the rewards of caring for a child, nurturing the child, and seeing them develop and improve. We love seeing the positive difference we have been able to make to a child through fostering.
“We have had two social workers who have really made us feel supported. We also enjoy the events and activities that are put on to support foster carers, like afternoon teas or awards events, it really makes you feel appreciated. We are also good friends with other foster carers, and we try to help each other out and share advice.”
Foster carers are provided with full training and regular opportunities to attend activities as a whole family, including local support groups and the council’s annual awards ceremony.
Children can also join peer groups and receive a Freedom Card which provides discounts on family activities.
On Saturday, 21 May, the council is hosting an event to celebrate the county’s foster carers and the amazing contribution they make to children’s lives.
There will also be an information event for those looking to start fostering on Thursday 19 May at Durham Town Hall, from 10am to 1pm. There is no need to book for the free event, and people are welcome to attend to talk with members of the fostering team and ask any questions.
Cllr Ted Henderson, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for children and young people’s services, said: “Foster care provides vital support to children and young people in all our communities. With over 900 children in care in the county, our foster carers do a fantastic job at giving children and young people the nurturing and guidance to make a positive difference.
“Community also plays a significant role in supporting fostering families, and we want to use this Foster Care Fortnight to celebrate the fostering community and all it does to ensure children are cared for and supported to thrive.”