A Northamptonshire foster mum is adding her voice to a national campaign to increase the number of foster carers.
Anita Finnerty, from South Northamptonshire, is backing Foster Care Fortnight, a national campaign that takes place every year to spread the message as widely as possible that more foster carers are needed to support children and young people.
In Northamptonshire the national initiative is supported by a two-week campaign highlighting the need for more individuals and couples to help support children in care.
Anita has been fostering for five years and currently looks after two brothers aged 10 and 12.
Supporting education and providing stability
Anita said: “When you foster older children you have a different set of challenges. With small children, you’re very hands-on and it’s a lot more physically demanding. The older children are able to do much more for themselves so your role as a foster carer becomes more of an organising and supporting job.
“You need to think about what you’re working towards and mostly that’s about supporting them with their education and about providing stability and routine so they can feel secure while they’re with you.
"You’re their go-to person ..."
Anita added: “From the moment they arrive, you want them to know how your family routines work; the security of routines is very important for children who may have had a chaotic lifestyle because they might not have had regular meals and a set bedtime. It’s reassuring for them to know that they’ll be doing the same thing at the same time each day.
“You need to be prepared to do most of the talking initially, especially with older boys. As they settle in and start to feel more secure, they begin to open up and talk about themselves. It’s important to let them know that as their foster carer, you’re their go-to person for any problems or concerns they have. They know that I’ll help them and if it’s something we can’t resolve ourselves, we’ll take it to our social worker.”
Anita and her husband decided to become foster parents when their own son left home for university. Anita said: “Being a foster carer means I have an income that helps me to support my son through university but it also gives me the chance to use all the experience and knowledge I’ve learned as a parent. We have the set up, we have the spare room and we have all the mechanics in place as a family.”
Benefits of fostering
There are different types of fostering including short-term and permanent. Foster carers are paid an allowance and a further payment to reflect a carer’s skills. There’s support and supervision from a designated fostering social worker and a number of peer support groups across the county.
Councillor Catherine Boardman, cabinet member for children, families and education, said: “Sadly, the number of children and young people who need our help and protection has increased – and that increase is likely to continue. We need more people to come forward to help us to support these children.
“Do you believe you have the skills to consider becoming a foster carer or do you know somebody who could? There are many myths about who can become a foster carer, but what really matters is that you have the commitment, skills and ability to look after children separated from their own families, and to offer them a stable and secure home.”
There are currently 855 children and young people in council care.
Find out more
To find out more about fostering and its benefits, have a look at our website and then get in touch to see if you could be one of our fostering stars.