Hunt for foster parents
BARKING and Dagenham Council has stepped up its search for parents to foster hundreds of children. Its fostering team is appealing to residents who may have thought about becoming foster carers, but have not yet been able to make up their minds. Simon Dod
BARKING and Dagenham Council has stepped up its search for parents to foster hundreds of children.
Its fostering team is appealing to residents who may have thought about becoming foster carers, but have not yet been able to make up their minds.
Simon Dodman, supervising social worker, said: "There are three times more children in care than carers who take up children. We want to tip that balance.
"There's a national shortage. There are people who will have been thinking about doing it for years.
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"They may think 'my child is five now and I'm thinking of doing it when I'm a senior'.
"Or, if you're a parent right now, sometimes it's just as easy to have a foster child than to start all over again."
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There are 120 children in foster care in the borough.
The team has recruited 50 of those in the past 18 months, but needs more people from all backgrounds to meet the different cultural needs of the children.
Mr Dodman said: "What is really important is that we recruit as many carers who meet the fostering standards as close to the children's schools and parents as possible. We really welcome applicants from people across the races, religions and genders.
"We do our utmost to try and match the child to the foster carers and we want to match the child to the cultural needs because in an ideal world, a child returns home when it's appropriate."
Single applicants and same sex couples can apply, or those not wanting to commit for a lengthy period of time as the council is stepping up its recruitment of short-break carers for disabled children.
Mr Dodman said he had witnessed a foster parent give his child away at a wedding and many keep up their relationships for 20 years.
"Some of the carers amaze and shame me in equal measures because they do so much more than I do," he said.
"Some people are just gifted parents."
A recruitment roadshow will take place on Tuesday at Lakeside Shopping Centre, West Thurrock, where you can pick up an information pack or talk to a team member. For more information, visit www.lbbd.gov.uk/fostering.