Next week sees the start of National Foster Care Fortnight and South Tyneside Council is joining the campaign to raise awareness and recruit more foster families to meet the ongoing needs of children in the Borough.
Nationally there is a shortage of foster carers and South Tyneside is no exception to this. Although there is a group of excellent foster carers who provide invaluable services and care to children in need - the Council needs to recruit another 30 to meet demand.
Care is required for all ages of children, from babies to 18 year olds, who need loving and secure homes. Some have special needs and others are brothers and sisters who would like to stay together. The length of time they need to be looked after varies enormously ranging from overnight stays, a few weeks, permanent fostering and even adoption.
Eileen Dunn, the Council's Childcare Manager - Business Services says: "There are lots of misconceptions about who can foster or adopt, you don't need to be extraordinary - just able to provide a safe, secure loving home environment. Carers can be aged between 25 and 65, and come from a variety of backgrounds. Single, married, co-habiting, childless, those with children still at home and those whose children have grown up and left home can all be considered for fostering.
Choosing to share your life with a child is a big decision to make which is why we will help in any way we can to make sure it's the right decision for applicants and their families. Fostering can be as challenging as it is rewarding but we offer support at every stage."
She adds: "South Tyneside Social Care and Health Directorate has been undertaking an exciting programme of modernisation. Within the Fostering Service we are proud to have achieved very high retention rates among our carers and we pay very competitive allowances and fees. We also provide high levels of support and offer excellent opportunities for carers who wish to take up further training and qualifications. The support we offer to adoptive parents is of the highest quality. There has never been a better time to become a foster carer in South Tyneside."