The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity and we are passionate about the difference foster care makes to children and young people. Transforming fostered children’s lives is at the heart of everything we do so we have created Wales’ first ambassador scheme within fostering to enable foster carers to use their expertise and experience to help shape our programmes, promote fostering and empowering others in the fostering community.
There are approximately 3,700 foster families in Wales. Foster carers have unique experience and expertise that they can share with peers and other professionals, to inform, motivate and inspire. We will develop an ambassador team of six foster cares with expertise across a range of fostering issues to support the development and dissemination of professional guidance in all areas.
We think this is necessary because our research shows that foster carers can feel isolated and insufficiently supported as they cope with the practical challenges of fostering. Most foster carers find the work rewarding but often describe it as demanding as they manage complex situations. Many children in foster care will experience extreme behaviour which can be emotionally challenging for foster carers. Reassurance from the foster carer ambassadors for these foster carers will be invaluable in improving placement stability which is a key factor contributing to looked after children and young people achieving positive outcomes.
Over the duration of the programme the ambassadors will host and speak at events, showcase achievements and provide peer support. The hope is that through their role as ambassadors they will raise the aspirations, and represent the voices, of foster carers and children in care across Wales.
The ambassadors will develop assertiveness and advocacy skills in order to play an effective part in influencing decision makers, have the confidence to influence policies of the services they provide and experience, and have the opportunity to offer peer support. It will open new channels for foster carers to make their voices heard, and work together with other professionals and stakeholders to have a genuine role in designing and planning fostering services. It will also bring greater access to advice, support and development opportunities.
Hear from one of our Foster Carer Ambassadors, Sarah, in this blog.