You can find out more about fostering with Thurrock by listening to our podcast recorded for Foster Care Fortnight 2020.
Hear from Lauren, one of our fostering recruitment officers, in our SoundCloud podcast, below.
If you're unable to play the podcast or hear what Lauren has to say, you can read her words below.
Hello, my name’s Lauren and I am one of Thurrock Council's fostering recruitment officers. My role is to raise awareness of fostering and recruit foster carers for our borough. This may be via advertisement, social media, open evenings and attending community events.
Foster Care Fortnight is the Fostering Network's annual campaign to nationally raise awareness of fostering and the importance of the children that are in foster care.
For us here at Thurrock Fostering, Foster Care Fortnight is a really important and busy time as we need to increase awareness to the public about fostering
We are reaching out to the people of the community from all different backgrounds and experiences who may have the time, care and interest in helping our local children who are in Thurrock's care.
We need our local families to look after our local children. Thurrock actually recruit foster carers who live within 20 miles of Thurrock, so if you live by but not in Thurrock we welcome your enquiry.
What are who are we looking for?
We are calling out to people who can provide a safe home. Children have a variety of different needs so we need a variety of different carers, single, married, same sex couples, different ethnic backgrounds, simply someone who has the time and the space!
So, this year's Foster Care Fortnight is slightly different to previous years, due to the current global situation – COVID-19 we cannot go out promoting at different events with our lovely foster carers, but this doesn't mean we have stopped recruiting foster carers!
I managed to talk to some of our foster carers who kindly sent me some real case studies about their experiences of fostering with Thurrock.
The first case study is from one of our lovely single foster cares who has been fostering for Thurrock for 3 years now:
"I decided to foster when I was made redundant in 2016 and realised that I could be 'available' for a child and offer them love, safety and security they needed.
"There have been good and not so good times but surely that is life... isn't it?
"My approach to fostering is to welcome the children into our home, allow them to develop and become confident and raise their self-esteem through learning about life, life skills, talking therapy, improving their access to the education they deserve and importantly having fun and enjoying life.
"Not all the children placed with me have stayed for a long time, some emergency placements, short term and one long term placement who is with me now.
"I see my role as helping children and young people to move onto a more permanent home or return to their families.
"When you are a foster carer It is important to have a passion for children and an ability to listen to children, don't judge them and be able to overcome problems, because believe me there will be some.
"For me personally, as no two children are the same it is important to have a different strategy for each child which for me has worked very very well.
"I believe I still have so much more to offer and look forward to future placements and the opportunity to change the children's lives for the better.
"I truly hope that all the children that have been placed with me have gained as much as I have.
"Fostering is a fabulous way to give a child an opportunity to find their 'forever home'. Give it a try... you won't look back but forward, to a more fulfilling, rewarding life!"
The next quote is from one of our amazing foster carers who like to foster teenagers.
"I had been a foster carer for an agency for about 8 years but found that I wasn't getting the placement requests coming through that I felt would be a good match for my household. My friend had recently transferred over to Thurrock and said that the transfer process was relatively straight forward, so I gave them a call. I spoke to a social worker at Thurrock that specialises in foster carers that transfer and she had so much knowledge and experience regarding this I felt in very safe hands.
"I did not expect to say this, but I really enjoy fostering teenagers! It fits in really well with my household.
"When I first started fostering I only wanted to foster primary aged children but one of the placements I had was for a 15 year-old and it really opened my eyes. I realised that they too needed love, security and boundaries and I had completely misjudged what fostering a teenager would be like. It is such a pivotal time in their lives and having a home that can help them thrive and offer them opportunities they wouldn't normally have had has been so rewarding.
"Young people need just as much as a younger child and I feel lucky to have been a positive part of someone's life. That 15 year-old moved on to university and it has been wonderful to see them grow into the young person they are today.
"They still keep in touch with me even though they are now an adult and they have said that if it wasn't for my encouragement and support they do not think they would have ended up where they are now. All it takes is one person to believe in them and they can fly!
"I have been fostering for just over a decade now and have been blessed to have lots of different children and young people in my life. I can't wait to see what my next decade in fostering brings!"
Our last case study for the is actually from one of our looked after children, talking about their experiences of foster care in Thurrock.
"It's great being in care knowing that there is someone that can make a huge difference in my life. When coming into care it was very confusing, hurtful and stressful and not knowing where life would lead me next. It took a long time to settle in when I first came into care which meant my behaviour was very bad and I felt out of control. However, my carer understood my circumstances and they never gave up on me.
"It took me about 3 to 4 years of being in care to finally get back on my feet and started to appreciate my foster carers knowing they love and support me unconditionally. They shaped my further and the person I am today. I got over the reason why I came into care and embrace it in different ways.
"I left my past behind me and started afresh. I am so grateful for my foster carers and I would never have got where I am today if I didn't have my foster carers always behind me. I know that I have a long way to go and that I have struggled in the past but I am determining to be the best that I can be."
What wonderful words from our amazing carers and children of Thurrock!
Something that we always get asked is...
How long does the process take, what do we need to do?
So – the first step would be my making the initial enquiry by calling us on 0800 652 1256 or fill in our online form on our website. Someone from the fostering recruitment team will take your details and send you our information pack.
If after reading the information you have thought, 'Yes!', fostering would fit in your life then we can arrange for a social worker to do a home visit to go into fostering a bit more and find more out about yourself and your lifestyle. Obviously right now home visits aren't taking place but our social workers can still conduct telephones calls and video visits as such!
If all of this is positive you can start the assessment process by handing in your application and this will get the ball rolling.
During the assessment process you will complete our skills to foster training, which consists of 6 sessions. This is free training where you will meet people that are going through the same journey as you but also a chance to speak to Thurrock's foster carers about their fostering experiences. Due to the current pandemic the training is being held virtually over video calls.
You will also undertake some statutory checks – medical checks, Disclosing and Barring Service (DBS), references, as well as an in-depth assessment about your life starting with when you was a child right up until now.
Once your assessment complete, your assessing social worker will take you to panel where a group of around 7 professionals from social backgrounds will ask you a few questions based on what they've read in your assessment and they will make their recommendation whether they agree you should be a foster carer or not. This will then be sent up to Thurrock's decision maker who will make the decision in which hopefully by this point should be a positive and you will become a Thurrock foster carer.
This process should take 12 weeks! Which actually shocks a lot of people because I believe at some point years back it used to take a lot longer.
To sum this podcast up...
Thurrock is continuing to recruit foster carers during lockdown. Please take this opportunity whilst you are at home with your family to start a conversation about fostering.
We can provide you with all the information and resources you need for this. Call us on 0800 652 1256 or you can fill in an initial enquiry form and don't forget to like our Facebook Page @thurrockfostering.