Cabinet members have approved a proposal for Barnsley Council to become a National Fostering Network ‘Fostering Friendly’ employer.
While the recent Independent Review of Children’s Social Care supports an expansion in the number of foster carers over the next five years, the proposal seeks to increase the number of council foster carers in Barnsley, within the short-term.
Foster carers provide a stable, loving home that helps children and young people in need of care to thrive, and a fostering friendly employer is an organisation or business that helps employees who are foster carers or who want to become foster carers.
Fostering gives a sense of belonging for children within a family setting and recruiting foster carers locally supports children to stay close to their family network and community here in Barnsley.
At a time when demand among children and young people in need of care grows, a combination of factors has led to challenges in the supply and recruitment of labour in many sectors of the employment market.
According to the Fostering Network, nearly 40 per cent of foster carers combine fostering with other work. Those who do say that a supportive employer can make all the difference, enabling them to balance employment with looking after children.
The fostering friendly policy will include an entitlement to flexible hours of working, paid leave for training purposes as well as special leave to help enable a new child in their care to settle into their new home.
This policy will support employees who are already foster carers, including for other councils, to feel more supported and remain working. It will also support any staff who are considering fostering to carry out their job role alongside providing a child or young person in care with a loving, stable home.
Cabinet Spokesperson for Children’s Services, Cllr Trevor Cave, said: “We want to increase the number of council foster carers employed by the council, its key partners and other local enterprises, to make sure that children can stay local, remain in their own school and close to their family and friends.”
“I am delighted that the council is leading the way as a supportive and flexible employer, to help foster carers balance their work and caring responsibilities and I’d encourage other local organisations to do the same.”
“We’re always on the lookout for those special people who can give a safe and loving home to a child in care at a time when they need it most. Whether you’re employed or not, you live alone or as part of a family, if you’re interested in fostering, there’s never been a better time to apply.”
If you are interested in learning more about becoming a foster carer you can visit their website here