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Call For New Foster Carers To Come Forward

10th May 2009

Photograph of Call For New Foster Carers To Come Forward

The Highland Council is joining in with the UK-wide campaign Foster Care Fortnight which starts today (Monday 11 April), to attract more local people into fostering. The fortnight is co-ordinated by fostering charity Fostering Network, to raise the awareness of fostering and highlight the shortage of foster carers across the whole of the UK.

In the Highlands there are 100 foster carers aged between 21 and 65 who look after 130 children and young people.

Speaking at the Highland launch held this morning in Inverness Chairman of The Highland Council's Housing and Social Work Committee, Councillor Margaret Davidson said: "Children of all ages and a variety of backgrounds find themselves placed with Foster Carers. There are many reasons why young people are unable to live with their own families and the reality is that they will in their young lives have had a lot to cope with. Foster Carers play a very important role in helping children during difficult, insecure and bewildering times. With the right care, stability and hard work they can really make a difference to a young persons life when it is most needed."

There is no such thing as a typical foster family. Carers can live in urban and rural areas, they can be are single, married or living with a partner. They have different racial, cultural and religious backgrounds and some have children of their own or have no children or have children who are now grown up. What they do all have in common is kindness, patience and an ability to understand children.

One of these people is Mhairi Geddes from North Kessock who has cared for 40 children of various ages during the 15 years she and her family have been fostering.

Mhairi said: "Fostering was something we wanted to do for a long time before we started. We had no previous experience of fostering before we began ourselves. We didn't know any foster carers or young people who had been fostered. In my own family however, I have experience of adoption and I am very close to my adopted family member.

"Having brought up five children of our own we felt we could use our experience to help other children and hopefully make a difference in their lives.

"Ever since we had our own family we enjoyed having children around. We always had a busy house as we encouraged our children to bring their friends home. That meant we knew where they were and that they were safe. When our two oldest children left home to start their own families we decided that was the time to begin fostering.

"We have been fostering now for 15 years during which time we have cared for 40 different children of varying ages. These have been mainly teenagers through choice as we feel this suits our lifestyle better. We are always given information about a young person before we decide whether they will fit into our family which also includes the other children in placement. In the early stages we just offered a place for 1 child, however now we can accommodate 3 long term foster children and also offer respite for 2 others. Some carers choose to offer short term care.

"We began offering respite because after one child we had cared for had gone home to his own family, he needed regular respite breaks and it made sense for him to come to us as we knew him well. My family maintain contact with him to this day. This has been the case with many of our foster children as they have grown into adulthood.

"Fostering can be very rewarding when you can see the changes in a child's behaviour, regular school attendance and in most cases the child returning to their own family. During our 15 years of fostering we have found that the rewards far outweigh the challenges and we intend to continue fostering for as long as we are able.

"Although fostering is not for the fainthearted we would thoroughly recommend it to those who have a keen interest in child welfare, a good measure of patience, a sense of humour and space in their home."

The Highland Council Fostering and Adoption Service provides the training and support needed. There are many different ways to get involved, it's even possible to foster on a part time basis.

Foster carers are given an allowance to cover the cost of caring for a child as well as a fee and receive training and ongoing support from our fostering team

Following a successful Care Commission inspection in November last year, the Council announced funding of an additional 420,000 to further enhance its fostering service and implement the Scottish Government's national strategy for foster care and kinship care.

Foster Carers Janet Bray; Mhairi Geddes; Laura Higgins; Louise Torrance join the Director Harriet Dempster and social work staff for the launch of the 2009 campaign.


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