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Norfolk County Council joins ‘Foster East’ initiative to recruit more foster carers

Eleven local authorities across the East of England have joined forces in a bid to recruit more foster carers to look after some of the region’s most vulnerable children.

Norfolk County Council is taking part in a new initiative for fostering under the banner ‘Foster East’, which launched on Wednesday.

There is an urgent need for foster carers across the area, with more than 7,000 children already in the care of their local authority. In the region, a further classroom of children come into care every week.

Norfolk County Council is among the local authorities spearheading the ‘Foster East’ initiative. Picture: iStock
Norfolk County Council is among the local authorities spearheading the ‘Foster East’ initiative. Picture: iStock

The Foster East initiative, funded by the Department for Education, is a collaborative approach to foster carer recruitment and support.

Councils will work together to provide more comprehensive training, support and best practice.

Each applicant will be helped via a buddy network, while advisors will help people find out how fostering can become part of their life.

In Norfolk, there are more than 1,200 children and young people ranging from babies to 18-year-olds who need safe homes where they can thrive and develop.

Councils aim to keep children and young people local to their support networks, but a shortage of foster families in our area means this is not always possible.

Fostering is a flexible role with options for short term care from a weekend a month to longer term opportunities, all providing life-changing support for local children.

Sara Tough OBE, director of children’s services at the county council, said: “Each council has a slightly different way of working but we all share the same aims: to improve the experience that our foster carers have during the application process, to provide solid training and in-depth support to ensure they can care with confidence, and to increase the number of foster carers working with us across the region so we can keep our children rooted in their local communities.

“Coming into care is an extremely distressing time for any child. If we can provide more loving foster families in their local area, we can minimise the disruption to their lives, and ensure these children can still attend their usual school, see their friends and family members, and participate in their usual activities, whilst having the support they need to thrive in a safe home environment.”

Foster carers working for independent agencies are also invited to transfer to their local council via Foster East. They will benefit from training and a linked foster carers support network which will offer respite care for foster families needing a break.

Foster East will give people considering fostering the opportunity to speak to an advisor from 8am to 8pm daily, and the chance to talk to an experienced foster carer to find out more about what the role involves and ask any questions they may have.

More information can be found at www.fostereast.org.uk

Got a story? Email kris.johnston@iliffepublishing.co.uk

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