A Foster Care Academy is one of a number of new initiatives which have been introduced to provide even more support and guidance for new foster carers.
The schemes have been developed by Lancashire County Council as part of its commitment to support its foster carers, and to help them carry out their vital role.
The academy has been set up to support new carers from their initial application and through their first year of looking after a child or young person.
Through the academy, new foster carers will benefit from a thorough induction programme to make sure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need.
A mentoring scheme is also being implemented. New foster carers will be allocated a mentor from the later stages of the assessment process to the end of their first year of fostering. Mentors will provide consistent and experienced support, and be someone that the new foster carer can turn to.
Fostering communities are also being piloted in five areas of Lancashire. The five areas are Burnley and Pendle, north Lancashire, Chorley and West Lancashire, central Lancashire and Hyndburn, Rossendale and Ribble Valley.
These involve very experienced foster carers, supervised by staff from the fostering team, offering peer support to a small group of carers. This support will be provided to foster carers with a limited network of family and friends.
County Councillor Phillippa Williamson, cabinet member for children, young people, and schools, said: “We need the support of foster carers just as much as ever. The council needs to find around 20 places every week for the children and young people it cares for.
“We really value our foster carers, and recognise the incredible impact they can make on a child or young person at a time when it is really needed, whilst also enriching their own lives.
“We’ve set up and developed these initiatives to support our foster carers as much as we can, and to help them with the amazing job that they do. Although becoming a foster carer is exciting, we appreciate that it can also be challenging at times.”
The county council is urging people who could change a local child’s or young person’s life by fostering to come forward.
People are being asked to consider whether a change in their circumstances caused by the current Covid situation could leave them well placed to provide a loving home for a vulnerable young person.
The county council is also urging anyone who has fostered with them in the past to think about coming forward to offer the benefit of their experience.
It is hoped that foster carers who are currently taking a break from fostering, and retired foster carers, will also come forward as they already have the skills and know how important fostering is for making a real difference to a local child’s life.
Foster carers could be asked to care for children and young people across a wide age range, from birth to 18-years-old. There’s a particular need for foster carers who could support an older child or teenager who need a safe and secure home environment through the current crisis.
There is a generous allowance for both new and experienced foster carers, who can expect to receive between £250 and £428 per week for each child they care for.
New foster carers will also receive specialised training and any necessary support from a team of psychologists and emotional health workers.
Lancashire County Council welcomes new foster carers from all different backgrounds. They need to be over 21 and have a spare room available by the end of the assessment process.
To find out more visit www.lancashire.gov.uk/fostering or call our friendly team on 0300 123 6723.