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Campaign encourages 'empty nesters' to think about fostering

Foster Swansea, the council's fostering service is asking parents preparing to wave their children off to university or whose children are leaving home, to think about fostering.

Karen and Tony Rice

At this time of year, when children are embarking on their first steps towards independence at university or school, the house can seem very quiet and fostering can be a refreshing and continuation from traditional parenthood.

Parents have invaluable parenting skills who can offer a loving home to children who deserve brighter futures. They understand the need to nurture a child in all aspects of their lives.

Having a foster child in your home can not only be a great distraction from the new found emptiness of your home, but it can also give you a fresh purpose and a new lease of life.

Foster Swansea carers, Karen and Tony Rice, say that a quiet home and no-one to look after any longer was the stepping stone to opening their home and hearts to vulnerable children. With both being very family-orientated, it was natural for them to extend their parenting role.

Karen Rice, said: "Becoming a foster carer is one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. We foster babies and have moved many onto adoption or helped them with the transition back home. To give babies a sense of security and a good start to their lives is immensely satisfying. 

"Every child deserves to have a loving and secure home but sadly, not every child gets that. If we can provide the children in our care, with a good start or help them get on a path to a brighter future, then our job is done. Unfortunately, so there are so many children that need love, support, security and attention - they deserve an equal chance to reach their full potential." 

Currently, the council supports 136 fostering families but with the number of looked after continuing to increase, more foster carers are needed to come forward.

Councillor Elliott King, Cabinet Member for Children's Services (Early Years), said: "The number of children coming in to care remains constant so the need for more foster carers continues. All over Swansea, there are children who need your help, and it's extremely important that we continue to recruit foster carers in Swansea so that children can stay close to their families, friends and schools.

"We especially need foster carers who have a spare bedroom, and can look after a child or a sibling group on a long term basis. We are also looking for carers who can provide parent and child placements, as well as care for babies."

Councillor Sam Pritchard, Cabinet Member for Children's Services (Young people), added: "We have fantastic foster carers in Foster Swansea who day in, day out, make a real difference to the lives of children and young people. Being a foster carer can be challenging but I'm also told that the rewards are immeasurable.

"For those who have a spare room at home and space in their lives for a child, fostering can be away to turn an 'empty nest' into an opportunity to give a child a fresh start. There are many different types of fostering, from short term and respite fostering, to long term care, so there's bound to be one that fits your lifestyle.

"Fostering is an extremely important role and Foster Swansea works hard to ensure that foster carers get the support, training and advice that they need. We are really keen to hear from anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer with Foster Swansea - all sorts of people make brilliant foster carers." 

Many myths still exist surrounding who can and who can't foster. In reality, there are few barriers to foster. The average age of our foster carers is 51 but anyone over the age of 21 years can apply to become a foster carer - there is no upper age limit. You can foster whether you have children or not; are married, cohabiting or single; own your house or rent; work or are unemployed. In addition, you can foster regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Foster carers get paid for each child they care for, and receive extensive training and support, as well as access to other foster carers - including support groups.  

If you are interested in fostering then come along to the next information evening on Wednesday 11 September, 6-8pm at the Civic Centre. Foster carers and Foster Swansea staff will be available to answer any questions and provide an insight in to what fostering entails.

The Western Bay Adoption Team will also be present at the information evening and will be available to talk to anyone interested in adoption. If you've been thinking about adopting and would like an informal chat, then come along to speak to a member of staff. There are many children who are waiting for their forever home.

·         For information on fostering, please contact Foster Swansea on 0300 555 0111 or visit www.fosterswansea.org. For more information on adoption, contact Western Bay Adoption on 0300 365 2222 or visit www.westernbayadoption.org  

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