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New plan for foster carers in Rotherham 

New plan to recruit, retain and grow the best in-house local foster carers goes before council cabinet later this month. 

Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council is working to increase the number of foster carers in the region who can provide loving homes for children in the area needing care. In the past year, there has been a net increase in fostering households and in placements for children. There has also been a very welcome rise in fees and allowances that foster carers can receive. 

Foster carer Kat Harbourne at Rotherham Town Hall, photo courtesy of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

Foster carer Kat Harbourne at Rotherham Town Hall, photo courtesy of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council

A cross-party working group of elected members established last year has now made a range of recommendations for the council’s cabinet to approve. These recommendations include elected members actively championing fostering within their own neighbourhoods and efforts to celebrate fostering families throughout the year. 

To encourage more people to foster, the council has also shared the stories of several local foster carers. 

For example, Kat Harbourne is a journalist who, with her wife Katie, began fostering some two years ago with her wife Katie. Kat says: ‘We would often feature stories from foster carers and I was always struck by how happy and proud they were to be doing what they do. Our friends adopted two children just before the pandemic and I saw how much foster care had helped the children and their transition to adoption and wanted to do the same.  

‘We moved house during the pandemic and had more space and decided it was time to share it. We’d realised during lockdown we wanted to do something more meaningful, and we saw how many children in care are waiting for a loving stable home. 

 ‘You have a chance to change a child’s life and open their eyes to the kindness in the world. There will be some tough days but there will be days that you’ll be so proud of your foster children’s achievements that you feel like your chest will burst. If you’re not sure, why not start by offering short term stays to give other carers some respite? You can offer weekend and overnight stays and take children on lovely days out and make some brilliant memories. Be the good you want to see in the world.’ 

Khaqan Mohammed and his wife Rena have fostered since 2019. Khaqan says: ‘Give it a try, you will learn a lot about yourself along the way. Every moment you are thinking about fostering is a moment wasted. Your delay is also delaying a child’s future prospects.’ 

He also recommended fostering via the local authority. ‘There is a lot more one-to-one support and therapeutic support. This is on your doorstep and it is all in-house.’ 

Wayne and his wife Sara have fostered for three years. Wayne says: ‘We have shared wonderful experiences and overcome many challenges but have enjoyed it immensely. A comprehensive support package is available when more challenging times arise. There’s a huge amount of training to pick from as and when required. 

‘Great care is given to potential matches, but our thoughts and feelings are always a high priority. The boy that’s staying with us has become part of our family very quickly. He is very affectionate and needs a lot of love. With the stability we have provided he’s really coming out of his shell and is happy to be staying with us. It’s amazing to see the changes in the children. 

‘We always feel listened to and are given as much information as possible. No judgment is offered if things don’t go as we would like. Just more help and understanding, or even a shoulder to cry on from our amazing social worker.’  

Cllr Victoria Cusworth, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People at Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, says: ‘The council’s fostering service has had a successful year, shown by an increase in the number of fostering households. Despite this, we urgently need new foster carers to come forward. 

‘We are committed to recruiting, retaining, and growing the best in-house foster carers locally. The Fostering Plan sets out how we will do this. Foster carers are supported by the council and there are a number of benefits in fostering with your local authority. This includes a comprehensive package of support with dedicated staff who provide around the clock support. I would encourage anyone who is interested in becoming a foster carer to visit the Fostering Rotherham website and chat to our team.’ 

For more information see www.fosteringrotherham.com or call the team on 01709 357 370.

In related news:

New children’s home opened for vulnerable teenagers

Councils form a coalition to protect children’s services

‘Very broad’ government strategy launched to improve children’s care services

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