Foster carers rise to challenges created by pandemic
An annual report by Shropshire Council’s fostering team has highlighted the challenges for the council and its team of foster carers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The report, being presented to Cabinet at their meeting on Wednesday 10 November 2021, says that there is increasing pressure on the service, as more children are needing foster placements with increases of 10% across councils nationally.
There is also a growing pressure on the service to oversee ‘connected person’ fostering, where a child is looked after typically by another family member such as a grandparent, aunt or uncle or close family friend, and this type of fostering is now becoming more frequent.
Over the last year the council has successfully doubled its recruitment of foster carers and has attracted many more people who may be interested in becoming foster carers. The process to become a foster carer can take a few months to complete.
However, due to a range of factors including carers retiring, or moving out of the area, the overall number of foster carers has not increased, underlining the need for the council to seek to continually recruit new carers.
The report says that updating the council’s approach to this using new digital tools to get more people interested in becoming a carer is paying dividends.
The pandemic has also posed huge challenges for foster carers as schools shut for long periods in the last 18 months, and many had to adapt to this during the three Lockdowns. The council ensured that it provided extra help and support remotely for carers during this period.
Kirstie Hurst-Knight, Shropshire Council’s Cabinet member for children and education, said:-
“I cannot thank enough all those involved in fostering Shropshire children.
“To do so in normal times is a challenge and that’s why we offer our foster carers lots of support, training and an attractive package to help them be great carers.
“But to do so during a pandemic must be even more difficult than normal, as many of the opportunities available to make fostering as smooth and normal as possible for both the child and the carer were simply not available during the three Lockdowns.
“It shows how vital it is that we have as many foster carers available as possible in Shropshire to ensure that children can be looked after as close to their home and in familiar surroundings as possible.
“Fostering continues to be a hugely rewarding role for many people.”
For more information about fostering in Shropshire see www.shropshirefostering.co.uk or call 0800 783 8798.