THE thought of becoming a foster carer can be daunting.
That is why West Sussex County Council’s fostering team is holding drop-in sessions throughout the county - to inform people that if they choose to foster there will be plenty of support available to them.
Sue Banyard, the senior social work practitioner at Centenary House, in Durrington, was at the most recent workshop, held at Worthing Library.
She said: “Some people think about fostering and think they can’t be a foster carer, but when they ask questions they think actually, ok. It opens their eyes to the possibilities of fostering.
“My role involves supporting foster carers. Helping them with training and giving them ideas for behavioural strategies and to help them develop to be the best they can be as foster carers.
“The important thing is no one fosters on their own, there’s a team supporting them.”
Sue said the most common questions she was asked were ‘could I or would I be accepted for fostering?’ And ‘what would it involve?’
“Foster carers make all the difference in the world because children come into fostering for many different reasons. They need someone who will be able to take the time to give them attention. It’s more than just love, it’s being able to meet their practical needs,” said Sue.
She added there was a shortage of foster carers, particularly for teenagers, in the county.
“I think a lot of people are scared of the thought of working with teenagers because they are at that stage when their hormones are beginning to develop and are challenging. Society sees them as being more difficult than younger children.”
In Shoreham, Lancing, Worthing, and Littlehampton there are 134 fostering households and 185 fostered children, representing 37.7 per cent and 42.3 per cent respectively of the total in the county.
Sandy Wilson is the marketing and recruitment officer for the fostering team.
He said: “It’s invaluable to be out and about. It takes people so long to come forward. People take about three years thinking about fostering before they enquire about doing it. We are here to help people through that process.
“A lot of people think they have to get their house in order or their job needs to be in the right place. It’s about all the elements falling into place.
“There tends to be a little bloom in September time when I think people are settling after the holidays or their kids are going to university and they get that emptiness.
“Our aim is to get more people to come forward as foster carers. The county needs more foster carers to meet the need and if we meet that resource we get the children to have the biggest chance.”
For more information on fostering, visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fostering or call 0330 222 7775.