Campaign to Encourage Residents to become Foster Carers

Residents are being encouraged to consider becoming foster carers for Oxfordshire County Council in a campaign marking Foster Care Fortnight, 13-26 May 2024.

Oxfordshire foster carer Samantha Allen has been fostering for 14 years and is helping to raise awareness of what is involved and why the experience is so rewarding.

“There are so many fostering options,” explains Samantha. “I’ve been a parent/child foster carer for the past seven years, that’s when I support both the parent and their child, and I’ve done some emergency fostering in between. I love the happy endings, which come in many guises, such as seeing the children I’ve looked after maturing and growing in confidence as they prepare for life ahead.

“There are lots of other parts of the role that I love, things like watching the babies I have cared for develop and thrive and making them feel secure and loved. It’s also great witnessing children going onto their adopted parent or parents, and mums going home with their babies once they’ve completed a 12 week assessment with you.

“Sometimes new mums can’t see how well they’re doing. In these cases, I see it as my role to empower them, to boost their self-belief, and you can never praise enough, so what I do is just keep doing it and that way I gradually instil confidence.

“It’s wonderful to see them blossom, knowing that a mum has overcome her anxiety and she will cope as a mother. It’s so uplifting for me, and, of course, wonderful for the mum and child as they bond ever closer.”

Oxfordshire County Council provides foster carers like Samantha with lots of help, including access to a social worker and a host of other support services. The council aims to create a fostering community, a network where foster carers can seek assistance and guidance to help them make a positive difference to local children.

Samantha explains: “There are so many options to fit around an individual’s time and availability, from respite, to short-term or long-term, emergency care and where you support both a parent and their child. You can be single, same sex or however your family presents itself. Age isn’t a barrier either, because if you’re 21 or over you can potentially foster.

“The children I have had the privilege of fostering have brought so much fun and purpose into my life. My advice to anyone thinking about fostering is to take your time to research and ask questions. There are lots of foster carers, like me, who would love to share our experiences with you, giving you a realistic perspective of what’s involved. People should be reassured that there is loads of support available from Oxfordshire County Council and they’ll help you connect with other foster carers as part of a support network.”

Councillor John Howson, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Young People’s Services, said: “Samantha is a fantastic role model, along with our other 235 Oxfordshire County Council foster carers. Through their care and dedication, they make an enormous difference to the lives of children, who, for various reasons, need to be cared for outside of their own family. I am full of admiration and thank each and every one of them.

“Our service is not for profit, and we are committed to keeping children and young people near to their birth families, friends and schools. Our aim is for children to have more stability by placing them locally with our own foster carers. We cannot do that unless we can recruit more people like Samantha.”

Oxfordshire County Council’s foster carers receive:

  • A welcome payment of £1,500, to help make the transition to foster carer.
  • Generous fees, paid in addition to the child’s allowance, based on experience and skills.
  • Dedicated social worker support.
  • Access to professionals involved with the child/children, linked with support groups and specialised training.

For further information visit oxfordshire.gov.uk/fostering, email fostering@oxfordshire.gov.uk or phone 0800 783572.

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