Staffordshire County Council has been awarded fostering friendly accreditation by national charity the Fostering Network as part of its drive to recruit more carers.
The accreditation means council employees who foster are given more flexibility in working patterns along with access to paid time off for assessments, training and when settling young people into their new home.
One Staffordshire foster carer and local authority employee set to benefit from the scheme is Jonathan Clay.
Jonathan who fosters with his wife Nicola said: “This is a great scheme that will hopefully help encourage other members of staff to consider fostering.
“When you first become a foster carer there are quite a few meetings and assessments to attend before you get started, so it’s helpful getting some time off for this. And obviously when a child is placed with you, again there’s some time needed to settle them in and make sure they are ok. Being able to work flexibly is also important and means if your child needs any extra help you can spend time with them.”
Mark Sutton, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Staffordshire County Council said: “Being recognised as a Fostering Friendly employer is brilliant news. It’s an important step in making fostering more attractive and encouraging more families to consider joining the team.
“Our foster carers are key to giving some of our most vulnerable young people a chance at a happy life, so it’s important we do all we can to make it as easy for them as we can. Allowing people to work flexibly and providing time off for meetings, assessments and supporting the young people when they need it will all make a difference. I would encourage other organisations and businesses to become a fostering friendly company and to get in touch with The Fostering Network to join the growing number of Fostering Friendly employers.”
The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. Their executive chair, Mervyn Erskine said “Becoming a Fostering Friendly employer is something to be really proud of. Foster carers are the bedrock of children’s social care – for the difference they make to the lives of children. It is important that this vital role is not only recognised, but also encouraged by their employers.
“By supporting existing foster carers and promoting the role to other employees, this helps to build on the thousands of extra fostering households needed in the UK, for the children who need them most.”
The fostering community is open to people from all walks of life, no matter their age, gender, relationship status or sexual orientation. Staffordshire County Council’s Fostering service needs to recruit around 60 more families this year.