Our chief executive Kevin Williams draws Foster Care Fortnight to a close.<--break->..
Kevin writes: "This has been my first Foster Care Fortnight as chief executive of The Fostering Network, and what a fortnight it has been.
"It began with wide-ranging news coverage on television and radio, online and in the newspapers, following the release of the results of The Fostering Network’s survey of over 1,100 foster carers. The survey found that one in four fostered teenagers are living with at least their fourth family in care, with one in 20 fostered teenagers living with least their 10th family in care. These findings highlight the need to find more people who are willing and able to foster teenagers, sibling groups, and disabled children.
"The statistics make horrifying reading I know, but without talking openly and honestly about the problems, then we can’t work to find a solution.
"In the short term, we know we must recruit more foster carers, and we must make better use of the foster carers who are currently approved. In the longer term, The Fostering Network will continue to be at the forefront of campaigning for policy change that can really help children in foster care, including better conditions for foster carers. We aim to spend our next 40 years even more productively than we spent our last, and will help develop innovative practice to ensure that fostered children and young people are supported to achieve their very best.
"This fortnight has placed fostering firmly in the public mindset, through storytelling, campaigning and face-to-face work by fostering services and foster carers in church halls, shopping centres and everywhere else imaginable. In all corners of the UK, foster carers, children and young people, social workers, fostering services, charities, and politicians have come out in force to share real experiences of fostering to help recruit new foster carers. I have been especially impressed with how many people have taken to their social media channels to show their friends, family, and acquaintances, what their connection to fostering is, and just what fostering means to them.
"With 55,000 foster carers in the UK lots of people have a connection to fostering, but the placard pictures and personal testimonies we have seen have absolutely blown me away. The Fostering Network is proud to have created Foster Care Fortnight, and to have led it so successfully for the past 20 years, and we will continue to do so – with your support – going forward.
"A highlight of the fortnight for me was our London Foster Walk on Saturday 6 June, one of a series of Foster Walks in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. As I welcomed this year’s Foster Walkers on the banks of the Thames, I told them that “I have the best job in the world…” and I stand by that.
"This is only the beginning though, and The Fostering Network will continue to be the voice of foster care. We will be there for every child, every carer, every day, and we will push to make foster care better for everyone involved in fostering.
"Thank you for being part of our community, during this fortnight and beyond, and thank you for doing all you can for the children, the foster carers, and all those who are working towards a more positive future. It’s been my pleasure to be involved in Foster Care Fortnight, I hope it has been yours too."
The Fostering Network brings together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children and young people to lead, inspire, motivate and support them to make foster care better. To support our work visit www.fostering.net/donate or to donate £10 text FOST37 £10 to 70070.