STEPPING UP: Fostering service praise
Praise has been given to foster carers in Hartlepool who “stepped up in a very big way” to support an increase in children needing care during the pandemic.
Hartlepool Council Children’s Services Committee were told at their latest meeting the fostering service in the town has seen an increased demand over the past year.
However officers and councillors praised the work of the service, noting more people have come forward to be carers in the past year despite the impact of the pandemic.
A target had been set to recruit at least eighteen additional foster carers in 2020/21, but a total of 29 were in fact approved.
Jane Wilson, council fostering team manager, said: “The foster carers of Hartlepool have stepped up in a very big way.
“We’ve increased in terms of our numbers here in Hartlepool, which I think is quite remarkable.”
In total, as of March 31 2021, the council fostering service had 161 carers, including 52 connected carers, who are those already with links to the children they care for.
As of that date there were 232 children being cared for in the system, while there were also 16 young people in “staying put” placements, which allow care leavers to remain with their former foster carers after they turn 18.
Ms Wilson noted stability is key to their work, and also praised how the council managed to reduce its external placements over the past year, from 37 to 34.
She said: “The fact that in this last very difficult year we have managed to not increase our use of independent fostering agency placements, so external provision, again is quite remarkable in the circumstances.
“We are pretty good in Hartlepool at keeping children close to home, we compare pretty well with other authorities in terms of that.”
Cllr Jim Lindridge, chair of Children’s Services Committee, praised the work being done by the fostering team in Hartlepool, adding the young people are put first.
He said: “Hartlepool has one of the highest numbers of children in care per 10,000, so the number of approved carers in 2020/21 is really important and I think that’s testament to the hard work being put in.
Cllr Brenda Harrison, vice chair, added she “couldn’t praise the fostering service enough.”
Anyone interested in fostering or wanting to find out more should contact the council team on firstname.lastname@example.org or 01429 405588.
Words: Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporter
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