FOSTER carers in Swansea are highlighting the benefits of fostering with a local authority as Wales is in the process of a major change for children’s services.
The Welsh Government wants to prioritise services that are locally based, locally designed, and locally accountable and under its plans there is a clear commitment to ‘eliminate private profit from the care of looked after children.’
This means, by 2027, care of children that are looked after in Wales will be provided by the public sector, charitable or not-for-profit organisations.
To meet this challenge Foster Wales Swansea – which is part of the network representing Wales’ 22 local authorities – is calling for more people to become local authority foster carers and encouraging those currently fostering with a for-profit agency to transfer over to their local authority team.
Council Cabinet member for Care Services, Louise Gibbard, said: “Welsh Government’s policy to eliminate profit offers a huge opportunity to make a long-lasting, positive change to the care of children and young people in Wales. It will benefit looked-after young people today, and in the future.
“Being a foster carer for your local authority offers many benefits – from extensive support and training to the fostering team and the children’s social workers all working in the same building. But most importantly, it provides young people the option to stay local. This allows them to remain close to family, friends and their local community.
“Local communities are key in increasing our local authority foster carer cohort, whether that’s people coming forward who haven’t fostered before, or independent fostering agency foster carers taking the step to transfer over. If you’re interested in fostering or transferring over, get in touch with the Foster Wales Swansea team for an informal chat.”
In Wales, 79% of children cared for by private fostering agencies are fostered outside their local area but 84% of those living with local authority foster carers stay within their own local area, close to home, to school, to family and friends.
Paul and Sharron Hammond originally fostered with an independent fostering agency before they made the decision to transfer over to Foster Wales Swansea in March 2014.
Paul said: “We started fostering 13 years ago after being impressed by my brother and sister-in-law who were already fostering. We were amazed by the positive changes we could see in the teenagers they were looking after. I had been made redundant for the third time and we were looking for a fresh challenge.
“We joined the same independent fostering agency that my brother and sister-in-law fostered for. We looked after a 12-year-old boy for four years before we followed my brother and sister-in-law in transferring over to the local authority.
“We wanted to foster for a not-for-profit organisation and keep local children within their local area. Our 16-year-old placement also transferred across with us.
Sharron added: “We enjoy fostering for our local authority and since we transferred over, my sister is now also a foster carer for Foster Wales Swansea. We have enjoyed the training and support we have received.
“We have cared for younger children, teenagers and now concentrate on providing parent and child placements. We think it’s really important to keep children local to their area.
“We have not regretted transferring across and would recommend all local Independent Fostering Agency foster carers to think about joining us.”
For more information about fostering, and how to transfer, visit: www.swansea.fosterwales.gov.wales