In Cheshire West and Chester we have 110 approved mainstream fostering households, 90 connected carer households and 580 children in care. We need foster carers to look after children of all ages and level of need. As a foster carer with Cheshire West and Chester Council you would have local children placed with you. This generally leads to much more positive outcomes for the children as they are able to remain in their community and keep close to their friends, family and school.
This year’s theme for Foster Care Fortnight TM is #FosteringCommunities.
“Foster care is at the heart of our communities, enabling children to stay in their local community, close to everything that is familiar to them. This Foster Care Fortnight we want to celebrate all the fostering community does to ensure children are cared for and supported to thrive.” The Fostering Network
Support for carers
Fostering can be a really rewarding role but at times there can be challenges. You’ll receive training and support from the fostering team to help you in your new role and build your own network of foster carers you can call on for support when needed. We provide opportunities for foster carers to meet each other at support groups, training and celebration events.
Each new carer is linked with a carer mentor, an experienced foster carer to act as a ‘buddy’ to support you through the early stages of your fostering career and beyond. As an approved foster carer you will have a dedicated Supervising Social Worker to support you through your fostering journey. They will visit you monthly and are also available via telephone and email anytime you need help or support.
Foster Carers Forum takes place twice annually which is an opportunity to input into the development of the service and there are often guest speakers to further inform you of the support you can access.
Cheryl, 54 has been a foster carer with Cheshire West and Chester Council for just over a year. Cheryl says “we have been nothing but impressed with the support and information from Cheshire West and Chester Council from the start of our journey. Our Assessing Social Worker was brilliant at taking us through the process and our Supervising Social Worker always picks up / returns a call or email promptly and just gives us so much confidence. I go to the support group when I can and really enjoy these – meeting more experienced carers has been invaluable for me. I have made good friends with some of these through the groups. The Supervising Social Worker who runs them too makes them relaxed but informative. Well worth attending.”
In Cheshire West and Chester we offer 8 support groups for foster carers which take place on a monthly basis. This allows carers plenty of opportunities to access support in their locality at a time that suits them.
Our mainstream foster carer support groups include:
All of these support groups are run by Supervising Social Workers from the Mainstream Fostering Team and supported by the Intervention Hub and guest speakers. Connected People have access to a support group provided by the Intervention Hub.
Walk and Talk
On Monday 22nd May our foster carers took part in a Walk and Talk Support Group in Northwich. The group had a lovely walk along Whitegate Way and a coffee and cake stop at Station House Café. The group included newly approved foster carers who had not attended a Walk and Talk before and experienced foster carers so it was a great opportunity for everyone to get to know each other, share their experiences and seek advice.
This support group is open to all foster carers from Cheshire West and Chester Council and is primarily attended by foster carers living in Northwich and Winsford. The group is run by Supervising Social Workers Robert and Maxine and all are welcome including foster carers, foster children and pets! Walk and Talk takes place every 3 months and in-between this time a daytime face to face/virtual support group is provided by Robert and Maxine.
Sons and Daughters
We recognise that foster carers may have birth children and their children play a vital role in the success of fostering. In Cheshire West and Chester, to support our birth children the Intervention Hub regularly hold events which children can take part in to socialise with other Sons and Daughters and have a break from their fostering family. The group had a day out to Chester Break Out rooms during the Easter break and they were fortunate enough to have children of newly approved foster carers that attended alongside some of the established attendees. The group are hoping to next meet for an activity during May half term and set up a support group meet up following this.