Fostering in Wales celebrated at Senedd

Politicians, councillors and representatives from across the fostering sector will be joining the Minister for Health and Social Services Mark Drakeford AM, at a Senedd reception held by The Fostering Network to celebrate the role of foster care on Fostering in Wales Day, Friday 12 June.

The special day is part of the charity The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight (1-14 June), and is an opportunity to highlight the fantastic work that thousands of foster families do across the country as well as raising awareness of fostering and the need for 550 more foster families across Wales this year.

The charity will also use the occasion to launch its Foster Carers’ Charter, which has been developed in partnership with ADSS Cymru and the WLGA and outlines the roles and commitments of both fostering services and their foster carers.

Attendees will also hear from foster carers Will Howells and Bryn Miles about their experiences, and from health and social services minister Mark Drakeford AM who, as well as reiterating the need for more people to come forward as potential foster carers, will talk about the When I’m Ready scheme and the consultation on the regulations underpinning the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act.

Director of The Fostering Network Wales, Dr Emily Warren, said: “We’re delighted to have the opportunity to celebrate the role of foster care with the minister, AMs, councillors and many others from across the sector.

“Foster carers throughout Wales provide stable and secure homes for thousands of children in care each and every year, often giving these children their first real experience of positive family life. To make sure that fostering services can find the right home for each of these children, first time, another 550 more foster families are needed across Wales in the next year alone.

“For the thousands who are already foster carers, we know how important it is that they feel valued and supported by their fostering service, and that’s why we are using this year’s campaign as an opportunity to launch our Foster Carers’ Charter. This charter makes clear the responsibilities of, and expectations on, both fostering services and foster carers, as they work together to care for fostered children.

“The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. For over 40 years we have been bringing everyone involved in foster care together to make life better for fostered children. We promote and celebrate foster care, influence and create change and develop and share innovative approaches to fostering. That’s why I’m delighted that we are leading Confidence in Care, a consortium funded by the Big Lottery Fund which is delivering a five-year programme aiming to improve the life chances of looked after children across Wales.

“Thank you to all the foster families across Wales for the amazing work that you do. I know that this Foster Care Fortnight you will have inspired others to come forward and make a real difference for fostered children.”

Health and Social Services Minister Mark Drakeford said: “It’s an exciting time to be a foster carer or a fostering service provider in Wales as we implement our ambitious plans to transform social care. Foster Care Fortnight is a chance to celebrate our achievements and challenge us to find new ways of achieving better outcomes for looked-after children and their foster carers.

“I am particularly pleased that we are rolling out the ‘When I am Ready’ scheme, which will give young people the opportunity to continue living with their foster carers beyond the age of 18, until they are ready to move to more independent living.”

Phil Evans from the Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS) Cymru said: “Foster carers are at the heart of our fostering service; they provide placements for over two-thirds of all looked after children in Wales. We’re delighted that the Fostering Network has given us the opportunity to acknowledge and thank them again for all their remarkable dedication and commitment.

“It’s every child’s right to live within a safe, secure and stable family environment, to be able to grow, develop and reach their potential. Foster carers offer this opportunity to children of all ages, from new born babies through to young adults. Some look after children on a short-term basis while others provide long-term permanent care. Some provide placements for children with complex needs while others care for children who are part of their extended family.

“This is an essential service provided to children and society as a whole. We’re very mindful that there are challenges facing fostering services now and in the longer-term. The new Charter has an important role to play in providing us all with a clear statement about what foster carers need and deserve and what has to improve. ADSS Cymru looks forward to working with The Fostering Network, BAAF Cymru, Welsh Government and other partners to make this vision an everyday reality for all foster carers.”

Cllr Mel Nott OBE (Bridgend), WLGA spokesperson for social services said: “Fostering makes a huge difference to the lives of children by offering them the stable and secure home that they need to flourish. Raising awareness through events like Foster Care Fortnight plays a crucial role and we hope it encourages more people to come forward and help give a child a positive and settled family life. Local government, through initiatives like the Foster Carers’ Charter, remains committed to achieving the highest possible standards both for those children who are in need of a foster family, and also for foster families themselves.”