A drive encouraging people to consider fostering children as a job has been launched this week.
Run by the council and Care UK, a leading independent provider of health and social care services, ‘Lewisham Fostering Week’ aimed to boost the number of foster carers in the borough by 100 over the next four years.
There is a desperate shortage of foster parents in Lewisham and the week, which ran from 18-21 January at Catford’s Civic Suite, was designed to inform locals of the rewards associated with fostering in an effort to urgently raise the number of applications.
Alongside the social benefits of caring for a child, foster parents in the borough can earn up to £500 a week.
Marrion Collins, a foster parent for over a decade and Chairwoman of the Lewisham Fostering Association, acknowledged the need for a shift in how the role is perceived.
She said: “There have been enormous changes over the past 15 years, it’s gone from a mumsy role and crossed over into professionalism.”
But Ms Collins maintained: “You can’t do it without the money, but you can’t do it for the money.”
Mark Pomell, Care UK director, described the campaign as more ‘media-savvy’ than usual while Anessa Lagerdien, registered manager of Care UK, insisted: “Although we want numbers, we want quality.”
Ms Lagerdien said that the screening process for prospective carers remains intensive, emphasising the need for “skills, accommodation and love.”
Cllr Robert Massey, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said: “We need more local foster carers so that we can keep young people in care near to their friends, the schools they go to and to other community ties.”