Only last week Fostering Network, a national charity identified that across the East of England there are 2,700 fostering households offering homes to 4,755 children and that a further 530 new fostering families were needed across Cambridgeshire and East Anglia to provide for the increased number of children requiring care.
Children and young people find themselves in the care system through no fault of their own. The children have often faced considerable trauma as a result of abuse or neglect and desperately need caring people who can empathise and connect with them to support them to understand and overcome the dreadful start to their young lives. So many people would make great foster carers but they are generally unaware of the difference they personally could make to a young person as well as the financial benefits of fostering.
Whilst fostering is regarded a vocational role, payment is given to foster carers and these payments are subject to limited taxation which means that foster carers can receive tax free sums. The payment varies depending on the specific care need of the children as well as the fostering agency policy on payments. Foster carers working with To the Moon and Back can expect to earn on average £21,000 -£24,000 per child per year*
Fostering a child is a serious role that requires an ability to connect with a child including being able to empathise, motivate and support a child who has had a difficult start in their young lives. We hear from foster carers how they have enabled a child to see the opportunities in life and how they have gone on to college, an apprenticeship or university against all the odds. They talk about the first few days of a child being placed with them and the challenges that arose out of a child getting to know them when they have been abused and lost all trust in grown-ups. They talk about the teenagers who have been neglected and forced to become parental role models to their younger siblings, but suddenly with a foster family, having their own ambitions considered and encouraged. They talk about the young mum who herself has been in care for a while and after having a baby being unable to look after him because she has no parenting skills, but with the help of a foster carer, able to learn what being a mum really is and how to care for her baby so that her baby does not have to go into care too. Lastly they talk of children being able to go back to their family after they have cared for them but staying in touch and remaining a part of their continued lives.
Without the support of great foster carers, children in care are unable to have a family life where they feel safe and secure and able to have access to everything their peers have.
To the Moon and Back have developed a different approach to supporting foster carers in Cambridgeshire. By understanding the real cause of a child’s emotional behaviour we support the child to recognise where their feelings come from and how they might be able to overcome these feelings, leading to greater acceptance of what has happened and an opportunity to rebuild their confidence. This will ensure foster carers can support the children to grow as individuals rather than encouraging them to conform to social norms which may be at odds with their unique outlook on life as a result of their experiences. (see more in our blog about Social Pedagogy)
* assumes that the child is placed for a whole 52 week period