BBC Radio Cumbria Interview FFC Fostering Manager Donna Turner on the Benefits of Fostering
Our Fostering Manager for the Cumbria region, Donna Turner, was asked to get involved on the Mike Zeller breakfast show on BBC Radio Cumbria during its feature on fostering last week.
The show coincided not only with the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight, but also with the release of a report to Cumbria Council’s Audit and Assurance Committee on 11th June showing that, despite targets to reduce the number of children in care, the figures had actually increased across the period of March 2014 – March 2015. The council’s target was to bring the number down to 555 but instead the report shows that the number of children looked after by Cumbria Council rose to 678.
We’re incredibly proud of how Donna was able to cut through the politics to get the Family Fostercare message across – that fostering is about individual children and families, and the positive life-changing impact fostering can have when individual needs are met, not about numbers, statistics and targets. In case you missed the show, here are Donna’s best bits:
Why do you think there is an increasing number of children in care and needing new homes?
As a private fostering agency we don’t really get into that, but I’ve been in fostering – well my family fostered and I myself have been in the business over twelve years - and the numbers fluctuate from year to year. As for why, well really it’s about individual family circumstances and needs, I don’t think you can really pinpoint it. What we focus on at Family Fostercare is the individual child and family stories, and how best we can help them.
How difficult is it to become a foster carer?
It is a process that takes time - there’s a lot of checks to be done - but it isn’t a difficult one. We welcome people from all walks of life. We’ve got an open door policy and we encourage people to come in and have a chat with us, then we explain the process to them, of going through the checks and the Form F, but they are supported in that process.
When asked about whether they would consider fostering, the answer we hear a lot is “I haven’t the time to be a foster carer”. Does it take a lot of time to be a foster carer?
Yeah, fostering does take time, because, particularly with a private agency, often the children we look after do have additional needs and do require time from the carer to help with their emotional needs and attend meetings and so on. But we do have lots of carers that balance that with working and with other interests.
Do you find lots of people who are put off because they think – what if I get it wrong as a foster carer?
Yeah! And there are a lot of myths about fostering – about who can do it and who can’t. But we’ve got lots of support and training for our carers so that they do know how to support children. We’ve got small teams, staff are always available to them, including support workers and therapists so we can assist them in achieving the best outcomes for the young people.
How big a contribution do foster carers make to the lives of young people in Cumbria?
A very big contribution. Sometimes they’re the only people that build up a really positive relationship and help children get back on track in their life. It is a very important role to the children that come into their care, and it’s lifelong.
What actual differences do you see in the children from pre- and then post-fostering?
Well, they learn family values. They increase their self-esteem – it lets them see that they’ve got a worth and that they can make a difference and that they can make choices in their life to make their circumstances better, and that they can achieve.
How important, do you think, are foster carers in the grand scheme of things?
I think foster carers are key to how we can support young people and how we can help children achieve good outcomes. Without enough foster carers more and more children don’t get that support and aren’t given the life chances that they need.
What’s the solution to getting more foster carers?
I think it is about educating people because there are a lot of myths and stereotypes about who can foster children, but really we’ve got lots of different types of children that require different types of people so everyone can do it if they’ve got the time and space and are willing to be trained and supported to meet the child’s needs.
If there was someone thinking should I, shouldn’t I, what’s the one that you would say to them to make them say “Yes, I will become a foster carer”
To see the progress that the children make, to see the difference in them from coming in to, you know even within a couple of weeks being in their care, you can see the difference that it makes to the children’s life. Foster carers can see the positive impact that their care has had on the child. It’s an incredibly rewarding thing to do.
There’s a great need for more foster carers in Cumbria from all walks of life. If you think you could give a child a better chance in life through fostering, and you are ready for a more rewarding way to earn a living, then please call us on 01228 583127, enquire online or better still, call in at the office for a chat.