Can you make dreams come true? Luton Fostering Services urgently needs more foster carers to look after 385 children currently in Council care.
The children are of different ages, from babies to teenagers, from a variety of cultures backgrounds and they dream of living in a home where they can feel safe and receive love, attention, emotional support and guidance.
Luton Fostering Service currently has 167 foster carers but with increasing numbers of children coming into Council care, the authority is actively recruiting foster carers from all walks of life.
Cllr Waheed Akbar, Executive Member with responsibilities for children's services, said: "You don’t need new skills or qualifications; in fact the skills you use every day may make you an ideal candidate to foster children. Think you might be too old or too young? Think again. The service is very keen to talk to people aged over 50, as they are to those in their 20s, 30s and 40s.
"Foster caring is a demanding role, but the rewards are amazing. Providing a caring, safe, loving, home environment is what every child deserves and what many of our foster children desire. Make their dreams come true, take up the challenge and become a foster carer."
There are many different ways you could foster a child. You can decide if you want a short term (a few days or weeks) or long term placement (until the child/young person is at least 18 years old).
As a foster carer you will receive professional training and 24 hours telephone support from a qualified social worker; an allowance ranging from £152 to £281 per week. There are also regular opportunities to meet with other carers so you can share concerns and best practice.
Jasbir Gohal and his wife Rajinder decided to become foster carers because they loved looking after children, having two daughters of their own. They are registered to take children from the age of 5-16 years and have been fostering for three years.
Jasbir said: “You have to have a lot of patience, a caring nature, be very calm and be able to listen. Foster children simply want someone to listen to them, care for them and to give them a loving home. The children we fostered made great improvement and nothing really changed for us, we just got a bigger family. You get lots of support; there’s plenty of training and we also have a good relationship with our social worker.”
Kola Ajala has been fostering for 10 years and in that time has cared for over 20 children. He said: “You must be tolerant and to have compassion is crucial; you can’t pre-judge them because you may not know what the child has had to deal with. You also must allow the children to be themselves. My own children have benefited from the experience and see it as a privilege to helping give other children a family and a home.”
Val Harris gave up being a teacher so that she could become a full time foster carer after taking on the responsibility to care for a pupil in her home after their placement broke down; this experience made her realise what a big difference she could make to a child’s life.
Val said: “I’ve been fostering for seven years and have looked after 30 children including new born babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers. I get a lot of satisfaction caring for them and the whole family gets involved. I’m confident that my own children will become good parents because they have had lots of experience helping me to look after the foster children. I don’t see this as a job, but as a way of life. You have to remember they are never yours to keep and your role is to prepare them so that they are ready to be returned to their birth parents or to be adopted.”
Experienced and qualified social workers will ensure children and young people in our care are matched with suitable carers where they can receive positive life experiences.
Cllr Akbar added: “There is always a demand for more foster carers and the Council is particularly keen to hear from the Black, Asian and mixed heritage communities. During Black History Month we hope more people come forward to provide homes for children in care from Black ethnic groups."
If you are interested in fostering or would like more information about the different fostering schemes available in Luton, please contact Luton Fostering Service on 54 77 37, visit www.luton.gov.uk/fostering or email FosteringServices@luton.gov.uk
The quality of our fostering service was rated ‘good’ by Ofsted last year and inspectors acknowledged the service had made a vast improvement.