Foster Wales is encouraging foster carers to move to local authority teams and work ‘as one’ to support our young people.
Foster Wales, which celebrated its first birthday this month, is the national network of not-for-profit fostering services, comprising of the 22 local authority teams in Wales.
Over the last 12 months local authority foster carers have come together to provide vital support for vulnerable young people and parents, with 163 new fostering families formed.
However, there is still a need to recruit an estimated 700 new foster carers and families across Wales, all while the country faces a continuing cost-of-living crisis.
Foster Wales RCT wants to encourage more people to become foster carers with their local authority so children can remain in their local area, close to their friends and families and in their schools.
Latest statistics show that last year 84 per cent of young people fostered by their local authority stayed in their immediate local area. In comparison, 77 per cent of children cared for by commercial fostering agencies were moved out of their local area to find foster care. Almost 6 per cent of children were moved out of Wales entirely.
Foster Wales wants to support the Welsh Government in its aim to remove the profit element of the care system, ensuring young peoples’ interests remain at the heart of the process and offering stability to foster carers through long standing and experienced local authority teams.
Councillor Gareth Caple, Rhondda Cynon Taf Council Cabinet Member for Health & Social Care, said: “Our local teams who work alongside schools and child’s social workers, have in-depth knowledge and understanding of the specific opportunities or challenges in our local areas. We are in this for the long term, for the right reasons, for the children.”
Head of Foster Wales, Alastair Cope, said: “Fostering with your local authority helps to keep children local, ensures local support for children and their foster carers, offers stability and longstanding knowledge for foster carers and removes profit from the care of children. Simply, for most people fostering, it is the best option.”
Foster carer Amanda Wilkes, who lives in Rhondda Cynon Taf, said: “I didn’t really know the difference between fostering with an agency and fostering with my local authority.”
“When I was with an agency, I literally went nine months without even being offered a child to care for, so I just felt redundant really. Since we decided to go with Foster Wales Rhondda Cynon Taf, we’ve been more or less non-stop for 10 years.
“I have had a lot of support and advice from Rhondda Cynon Taf Council and other parents in the area.”
In the last year, Foster Wales has recruited 163 new foster families, making a real difference to children in the heart of Welsh communities.