Could your resolution be to change a child's life?
06 January, 2017
It’s that time of year where people set resolutions for the year, promising to lead healthier lifestyles, save money, change their career or try out a new hobby.
But instead of just making a commitment to change your own life, why not consider making a difference to someone else’s instead?
Bridgend County Borough Council is appealing to residents to consider becoming a foster carer in 2017.
Most children and young people will have celebrated Christmas and New Year with their families but there are others who are less fortunate and, for many reasons, are unable to live at home.
Bridgend Foster Care, the council’s fostering service, has a shortage of carers and particularly needs to recruit people willing to foster a child in need.
Currently there are 385 children and young people in care but not all of them are placed with permanent families; some are only lucky enough to have short-term placements, some are moved out of the county, whilst others are placed in residential care.
Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help, Councillor Phil White, said: “We continue to have a shortage of foster carers so in 2017 we need more foster families to keep up with the numbers of children in need of homes.
“January is that time of year where people are making New Year’s resolutions and are thinking about challenges and positive changes for the year ahead, so this is a good time to explain how they could make a real difference.
“Our foster carers really do help change the lives of children and young people. The positive changes that can be achieved from a child being placed within a permanent and loving family are incredible. Just the smallest amount of intervention, passion and commitment can make a massive difference to a child’s life.
“If people are thinking about making a difference and transforming a child’s life this year, I would encourage people to contact Bridgend Foster Care for an informal discussion.”
Almost anyone can become a foster carer; there is no ‘ideal’ type. The council needs people from a variety of different backgrounds and life experiences to meet the needs of the children.
You can be a parent already, or have no children of your own. You can be single, a couple in a same-sex relationship, married, divorced or separated. You can be claiming benefits or in work. You can own your house or rent. The minimum age of applying to become a foster carer is 21 but people can continue to foster past retirement age. No formal qualifications are required.
Many carers say that fostering is one of the best things they have ever done and that helping a child achieve the little wins is particularly rewarding, including Elaine Crowle.
Having fostered three children over the past two years, Elaine said: “When a child comes into your home and you can see the positive changes in them through your own guidance, it is such an overwhelming experience.
“Getting a child to sleep through the night, seeing your foster child smile for the first time or them reaching out to hold your hand, are the little wins that prove foster carers can make a big difference to a child’s life. There is nothing better than watching a vulnerable and sad child turn into a happy one.
“I am often very proud of the children I have fostered and the sense of achievement I get as a foster carer is amazing. Fostering is definitely one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!”
Foster carers receive an allowance, training and extensive support, including access to experienced foster carers – including support groups.
The Bridgend Foster Care Team also organises regular meet and greet sessions that provide friendly information on fostering, including a no-obligation chat with social workers and current foster carers. The next session will take place on Tuesday 17 January at 6.30pm in Bridgend Life Centre.
If you think fostering could be for you then further information is available at www.bridgendfostercare.wales or alternatively, contact the fostering team on (01656) 642674.