Tony Round is The Fostering Network’s fundraising manager. In this blog, Tony discusses the need for more flexible and supportive workplaces to encourage working people to foster and support foster carers in employment.
Before I go much further with this blog I feel I must firstly apologise. It was me. I take full responsibility. There is no getting away from it; the sudden proliferation of the F-word in all our fundraising and employer engagement activities is down to me and my team. Foster Bake, Foster Quiz, Foster Walk; it is all our fault and now we have a new alliterative offering to place before you - Fostering Friendly!
What’s it all about? We found ourselves asking, how do we, as an organisation, speak to employers that want to help potential carers who want to combine fostering and work? Is there untapped potential in the working population that could be better supported to become foster carers?
Could we extend the reach of Foster Care Fortnight and raise awareness and the profile of fostering outside those two, focused and very feverish weeks (believe me, I have seen the team running FCF and feverish is an apt description!) of activity? Well, we started answering these questions two years ago…
In December 2014 we published the results of research on the subject of combining fostering and other work. The responses were many and varied but the recommendations of more than 2,000 foster carers were clear: existing and potential foster carers needed flexibility, understanding and practical support from their employers if they were to be effective working foster carers. The report recommended that employers adopt or adapt an HR policy framework that introduced a flexible, understanding approach for working foster carers, paid leave - to undergo training, attend panels, or other significant events, and which made clear that the employer was supportive of the vital role that foster carers perform in society.
The Fostering Network took these recommendations on board and the new Fostering Friendly scheme for employers is the result.
In the last two months alone we have received enquiries from more than 40 potential fostering friendly employers eager to join the scheme, including several national businesses, local authorities and other employers.