There are more than 7,000 children in the care system in Wales, but only 3,800 foster families.
In Wrexham there are 304 children who are looked after by the local authority. And while we have a devoted team of 39 foster carers and 51 connected carers, they are only able to provide essential support for 120 children and young people.
Worryingly, as the number of looked-after children continues to rise annually, the approval of new foster carers is on the decline. Therefore, we face the pressing challenge of keeping pace with the growing demand and we urgently require 30 new foster carers each year for the next two years.
Foster Wales – the national network of 22 Welsh local authority fostering teams – set out with the bold aim of recruiting over 800 new foster families by 2026, to provide welcoming homes for local children and young people.
Foster Wales Wrexham has joined this new campaign called ‘bring something to the table’, utilising their greatest asset – current foster carers – to share realistic experiences of foster care and explore the small, but significant, human attributes people possess that can make the world of difference to a young person in care.
Foster Wales has spoken to over 100 people to develop the campaign, including foster carers, social workers, teachers, members of the public, and care leavers.
The responses from these groups highlighted three key things stopping potential carers from enquiring:
- A lack of confidence in their skills and ability to support a child in care
- The belief that fostering doesn’t fit with certain lifestyles
- Misconceptions around the criteria to become a carer
Armed with this knowledge, Foster Wales has drawn on real stories of carers in Wales to show that local authority fostering is flexible, inclusive, and comes with extensive training and professional development opportunities.
Cath and Neil are long-term foster carers in Wrexham. Their patience and perseverance in overcoming the food insecurity felt by their foster children shows that thoughtfulness, compassion, and a child-centred approach is the most important ‘skill’ you require as a carer. They said: “We already had all the skills we needed to become foster carers, and more people need to know they have the skills too. For us, becoming foster carers has been a huge learning curve – but now we’ve made the switch to Foster Wales Wrexham we certainly feel at home.”
Wales is leading the way in children’s services
Currently, Wales is in the process of a whole system change for children’s services, which was proposed in the 2021 co-operation agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru, making 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 public sector, charitable or not-for-profit organisations, and the need for local authority foster carers is greater than ever.
Cllr Rob Walsh, lead member for children’s services at Wrexham Council, said: “Our local authority foster carers in Foster Wales Wrexham do an incredible job, supporting children by offering their skills, experience, empathy and kindness to ensure they feel safe and secure.
“But we need to recruit more amazing people in our area to ensure that all local children who need it have a welcoming home and the right foster carer for them.
“When you foster with Foster Wales Wrexham the team ensures you have access to dedicated local knowledge and support, a brilliant learning and development package and more importantly, you can help children stay in their own local community, close to friends, their school and everything they hold close.
“We encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to a child’s life to bring their skills and experience to the table and get in contact with Foster Wales Wrexham.”
The campaign begins on Monday, January 8, 2024 across TV, streaming services, radio, digital, social media, and with various events in local communities across Wales.
For more information about fostering, or to make an enquiry, visit the Foster Wales Wrexham website or call 01978 295366 to speak to one of our recruitment team.