Chance To Thrive campaign launched to find new foster carers in Hertfordshire

The Fostering Network estimates that fostering services need to recruit a further 7,220 foster famil

The Fostering Network estimates that fostering services need to recruit a further 7,220 foster families across the UK. Picture: Archant - Credit: Archant

A campaign to recruit new foster carers has been launched in Hertfordshire this month.

#ChanceToThrive - an initiative from Herts County Council's fostering and adoption team - aims to find caring parents for children in need.

Helen Archer, a foster carer in Stevenage for seven years, says fostering is "one of the toughest jobs that anyone can do, but by far the most rewarding".

Helen is currently fostering two two teenagers, and continues to provide support for Jade - a young woman with additional needs who came to her aged 13.

"The greatest joy of fostering is the privilege of transforming young people's lives," Helen said.

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"The children that come through foster care have had a traumatic start to life and their behaviour is often misunderstood. Foster care is about encouraging, and building up young people in a conventional home environment - and giving them hope for their futures."

Chance To Thrive is particularly focused on finding parents for children with additional needs, such as speech and learning disabilities.

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Jade, who has a number of additional needs - including autism, ADD and dyspraxia - came to Helen aged 13 having spent time with ten different carers.

Now 20, Jade helps out at "Skills to Foster" training courses in Stevenage and assists with recruitment events in Herts.

She talks of the huge difference it can make to be "welcomed into a family" after the disruption of different homes and schools.

Approximately 70% of children in foster care have an additional need, compared with almost 20 per cent of all other children.

Teresa Heritage, deputy leader of Herts County Council and cabinet member for children, young people and families, said: "All children need a Chance to Thrive, and we are very grateful to all our foster parents who already look after children with additional needs.

"Someone like a police officer, a nurse, midwife, healthcare professional or probation worker, may feel they can use their experience to help them become a foster carer."

If you are interested in foster care, please contact Hertfordshire County Council's fostering and adoption team on 0800 917 0925.

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