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Fostering and Adoption

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A 'Fostering and Adoption' event is being hosted in Haddenham on Friday 16th May, from 7.30-9.00pm at St Mary's Centre, Station Road. Welcoming refreshments will available from 7.15pm. The event will provide an opportunity to hear stories and experiences from local foster carers and adopters, to discuss issues/ask questions and raise awareness of fostering and adoption in this area. All welcome. For more information, please contact Suzanne on 290950.

More loving and caring people who could make a real difference to the lives of children and young people in Buckinghamshire are being sought by the County Council. In particular, carers who could look after siblings, young children aged under five and teenagers.

The call coincides with the launch of Foster Care Fortnight (12th to 25th May) an annual UK-wide awareness campaign co-ordinated by Fostering Network, to raise the profile of fostering and highlight the need for more foster carers.

The year's theme "guess who fosters" aims to challenge stereotypes about who can and can't foster, and highlight the skills and qualities needed to become a foster carer.

According to a national poll released by the Fostering Network today, adults in the East of England are the least likely to think they would be accepted as foster carers if they were to apply.

Buckinghamshire County Council currently has around 450 children in its care, and like many local authorities has witnessed a significant rise in the number of looked after children. Numbers have increased by nearly 20 per cent since March 2011 when there were 381 looked after children. In the last three years, the greatest demand for placements has been for young children under five and teenagers 14 or over.

Angela Macpherson, Buckinghamshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Children's Services said: "There are many myths about fostering and people may think they are not suitable, perhaps because they do not own their own home or because they work. These are not barriers to fostering.

"Or if you have ever thought about fostering to adopt. Foster to Adopt carers from all types of social and economic backgrounds are always welcome as the children within our care who need adoptive families have a such a diverse range of needs. We want to make fostering as accessible as possible for everyone."

"The Foster families we have do a fantastic job in providing homes, stability and security for thousands of vulnerable children. But we need more of them and Foster Care Fortnight is a great chance for people to come forward to see if they have the skills to foster."

Suzanne Littler has been a foster carer for three years for children aged 0 — 5years. She said: "We started when our boys were 9, 12 and 14 years old and I was considering returning to work.

"I was keen to be around for the boys when they came home from school and to be available if they needed me. Fostering seemed to fit the bill. It has given me a career in making a significant difference to a child's life, working alongside other childcare professionals, undertaking training and growing in understanding of human behaviour and also of myself!

"It's been lovely to see our boys enjoying playing with and caring for the children we've fostered. They have enjoyed being a part of seeing these kids heal and develop. They have learnt so much through fostering and it really feels like a team family job we do together."

Anyone interested in fostering can come along to a drop-in-session with Suzanne on Friday 16 May at St Mary's Centre, Station Road, Haddenham, HP17 8AJ between 7.30 to 9pm.

Cllr Macpherson continued: "This fostering fortnight we need to find those amazing people who are robust, energetic, empathetic and caring and able to provide what is a vitally important role in a child or young person's life. All that's important is that our carers have the time and patience to care for a young person, child or siblings. I encourage anyone thinking of becoming a foster carer to get in touch."

To find out more about becoming a Buckinghamshire foster carer email the First Step Team firststep@buckscc.gov.uk call 0800 160 1900, or visit www.buckscc.gov.uk/fostering

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