With just under 700 children currently in foster care in West Sussex, an appeal is being made for people to help give a local child a temporary home.
There is a growing number of children and young people needing foster care across the country and West Sussex is no different which is why the county council is aiming to recruit and train more foster carers than ever.
It’s important to let them know that you don’t have to be Mary Poppins to be a parent
The County Council’s Fostering Service is also enhancing its support packing for carers including improved training.
Local foster carers Sandra and Anthony chose to specialise in fostering a child and their parent at the same time.
Sandra, who was a childminder for five years prior to fostering, said: “I read an article in West Sussex Connections and it sparked an interest. I had worked with parents from a range of backgrounds, some of whom had quite a difficult time and needed more support. I thought: maybe I could do this, maybe there is something I can contribute.
“Our own children were on board with the idea from the start – they were used to all the comings and goings from the childminding.
“Like anything you do, it has its ups and downs but it has been great. You must respect their background - which could be very different from your own. It’s important to guide people in the right way and give support where they need it the most. It’s important to let them know that you don’t have to be Mary Poppins to be a parent.
“I have regular visits from my social worker. She is always on the end of the phone and there are local foster carer support groups that we can go along to. The children and family centres in West Sussex are amazing – a massive support.
“It feels good to know you have put support in and have done what you can to help. You’re a moment in time in their lives, and if you can impact it in a positive way… even if it’s looked back on 10 or 20 years later, that’s all you can ask.”
The Fostering Service is keen to hear from people from all backgrounds and with a range of life experience including different ethnic minority backgrounds.
Stephen Hillier, West Sussex County Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People, said: “Our marvellous foster carers are a huge and incredibly important part of our ability to provide the best possible care and outcomes for some of our children and young people. We therefore warmly welcome all enquiries from residents who are interested in offering a loving home and are constantly striving to provide good all-round support to foster carers.”
The service is looking for people who would like to make a difference and enjoy working with people and children. To find out more, head to a local information session, call the team on 0330 222 7775 or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fostering.
Upcoming information evenings are:
• 20 September from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at Broadfield Children & Family Centre, in Crawley
• 26 September from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at County Hall North (Parkside), in Horsham
• 28 September from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at Angmering Village Hall
• 4 October from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at The Wave Children & Family Centre, in Worthing