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Fostering: dispelling the myths

There’s no such thing as a typical foster child, so it goes without saying there’s no such thing as a typical foster carer. But could you be one?

Children from all different backgrounds require a temporary home from time to time in their lives and therefore foster carers from all walks of life are essential to be able to care for some of the most vulnerable children and young people.

One of the issues with fostering is the myths or misconceptions that surround it, which lead to many who might otherwise consider taking up the challenge to think that it is not for them, or that they would not be accepted as carers. Many potential carers seem to believe that some magical quality or superhero power is required. Perhaps it’s time to dispel some of those myths…

We’re getting used to finding our true superheroes in unusual places these days, and often it’s for the simple things that can nonetheless make big differences. Fostering definitely falls into this category. You don’t need superpowers – just to be a good and caring person who is over 21, who also has a spare bedroom and the dedication to help children and young people thrive. And by doing it, you can change lives.

Playing a pivotal role at the heart of Peterborough City Council’s children’s services is a dedicated team of foster carers who look after the city’s most vulnerable children, supporting their learning and inspiring them to prosper. Foster carers accomplish incredible things every day, even in the face of a global crisis that has affected every one of us and impacted all aspects of our society. Despite the practical and emotional challenges that the coronavirus is bringing, foster carers continue to provide day-to-day support, love and stability to children and young people who can’t live with their birth families. They support children and young people’s education, health, and social wellbeing, and also help to maintain the children’s relationship with the people who are important to them but who they cannot currently see in person.

The need for foster parents often stems from children being in terrible situations of abuse or neglect. That need is also urgent; there’s currently a nationwide shortage of foster carers, which means that thousands of children are going without the love that most of us take for granted. At the moment, Peterborough City Council is especially keen to hear from people who can care for sibling groups of brothers and sisters, children with additional needs and teenagers.

Every year more foster carers are needed across Peterborough to make sure fostered children can live with the right foster carer for them. Despite the coronavirus, this year is no different, so anyone who thinks they might have the skills and experience to become a foster carer is urged to make contact.

Fostering services have adapted their processes so they can keep helping children and young people in need during the crisis. As Councillor Lynne Ayres, Peterborough City Council cabinet member for children’s services, explains: ‘We have made arrangements to progress enquiries through phone or video calls. If you decide to go further then we will discuss the next stages with you.’

The department offers full training, and the process takes about four to six months from initial contact and acceptance to you becoming a fully-fledged foster carer. Carers receive payments and allowances to help cover their time and expenses, as well as advice and guidance so they are supported every step of the way.

So, don’t rule yourself out or let ‘myths’ stop you from making an enquiry. No one expects foster carers to be perfect – but everyone who does it can help young people find their potential and lead happier, healthier lives.

The myths…

I’d like to help, but I probably need to be in work to be a foster carer…

Not true! Depending which type of fostering you choose, working is not a barrier so please do get in contact to find out more.

I expect I’m too old to be considered

Not true! You are never too old to foster – the experience this brings is welcome! Those who are retired not only have experience to offer, but more time to dedicate to the task too

I have children of my own, so it’s probably not an option for me

Not true! If you have your own children the fostering service also want to hear from you – it just shows you understand what’s needed.

I guess fostering requires a traditional family setup?

No, not at all. You can be in a same sex relationship, married, single or living with a partner.

But I’m in rented accomodation…

Not a problem! What’s needed is a willingness to help and a safe, secure, loving home.

If you would like to register your interest then email or call 0800 328 8433  

For more information about Fostering visit: www.peterborough.gov.uk/fostering

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