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Barrow fostering campaign aims to show ‘there are so many ways to care’

In its latest foster carer recruitment campaign Cumbria County Council is keen to highlight the many different types of fostering, which can fit with different lifestyles.

Many people who consider becoming a foster carer are not aware that there are many different types of fostering that fit with the different help that people can offer. This includes short and long term, respite, specialist parent & child or baby placements, fostering siblings, emergency fostering and other types. The campaign aims to show there really are so many ways to care.

Foster carer, Terri Forbes, of Dalton has fostered with the council for 20 years and specialises in ‘parent and child’ fostering – helping a parent to care for their child by passing on her own parenting skills and helping them to develop theirs.

Terri said: “I started fostering because I love spending time with children and, as a single mum, saw fostering as a way of helping children and at the same time being able to stay at home with my own young children.

“I fostered children under six when I first started and then I also took on a long term placement of a boy and girl aged 8 and 10.

“Then one day I got a call asking if I could take a mother and baby. It went really well and I have continued to do parent and child fostering ever since. You need to have a lot of patience to do this type of fostering, as you are being a parent to the mother, as well as the baby.

“It is all about showing parents how to be good parents, not doing it for them. I absolutely love it, it is the type of fostering placement I would choose over any other, simply because I want to help keep families together and give every parent the chance to take their baby home.”

Georgina and Martin Sherwood of Ulverston are short term foster carers for Cumbria County Council caring for children up to 8.

Georgina said: “We’ve really enjoyed foster caring and its many rewards, as well as the challenges. We’ve found with the children we’ve looked after they’ve either moved on for adoption or to family members. It is really lovely when children have been able to remain within their family unit and we’ve taken an absolute delight in being able to give those children a start. It’s a privilege really to have had that input into their life so early on.”

Martin added: “It can be hard when the children move on because they really do become part of your family. When they go, they do leave a hole but you also know there will always be another phone call and another child who needs your love and care.”

Different types of fostering require different types of people with a range of experience and background. Whether you work or are retired, are married or single, have children of your own or not, there is likely to be a type of fostering which fits with your lifestyle and experience.

The County Council have a number of different types of fostering schemes, reflecting the variety of needs of individual children:

Short term fostering – carers can look after children for anything from a few days to two years. This type of fostering might suit those who wish to make a difference to as many children as possible.

Long term fostering – children unable to return home may need a permanent, long term placement with a family for the rest of their childhood. This type of fostering would suit those who feel they would find it difficult to say goodbye to a child in their care after building an attachment.

Shared Care – offers short breaks to a family who have a child with a disability. Shared carers are matched with a child they could care for on a regular basis for a weekend, a holiday or occasional overnight stays. This might suit people who worked full time.

Approved Support Care (also known as Respite) – respite carers provide temporary breaks to existing carers at weekends and during holidays. People who work full time often find this type of fostering suits their lifestyle as it is very flexible and children can be placed at times that are convenient for them by prior arrangement.

Parent & Child fostering - parent and child placements are a specialist type of fostering where a young parent, usually a mother and baby, comes to stay with you at a time when they need extra support. The young mum might be having difficulties looking after their new baby, or need some extra help and advice so that they can do it well.

Teenage fostering (Adolescent Care Team) – Our specialist foster carers for teenagers care for teens with complex needs and often have experience working with adolescents.

Specialist baby fostering - fostering a baby means you will have to be available 24 hours a day, the same as all parents. Baby foster carers are usually required to work with the birth parents, especially in the arrangements for regular, supervised contact.

Cllr Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said: “As our latest campaign shows, there are a range of different fostering schemes and whatever your situation, there will be a scheme to match the help you can offer.

“If you do decide to become a foster carer you will not be expected to 'go it alone'. From your first enquiry to each subsequent placement you'll be fully supported.”

Cumbria County Council has a number of upcoming information events in the Barrow and

South Lakes area where people can find out more about fostering:

Saturday June 8 – Information stand at Dalton Carnival, Dowdales School Field. From 10am to 4pm Monday June 10 – Fostering drop in, Costa Coffee, Elephant Yard, Kendal. From11am to 1pm Saturday June 22 - Information stand at Barrow Carnival, Barrow Park. From 10am to 4pm Thursday June 27 – Information event at Hotel Imperial, Barrow. Doors open at 6pm, with presentation at 6.30pm.

For more information go to cumbria.gov.uk/fostering or call 0303 333 1216.

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