Fostering communities in Warrington
The theme for this year’s 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
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.
Once approved as a foster carer you will have the same Supervising Social Worker as a number of other carers and you will all have an opportunity to meet together regularly in ‘team meetings’. They invite speakers, discuss topics that are relevant to you as a specific group of carers and tailor sessions to your bespoke needs and interests.
Monthly drop in clinics with Fostering Managers are an opportunity to meet face-to-face and discuss your experiences. Foster Carers Forum also takes place every few months 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.
Family and Friends Network Hub
The group run by family and friends carers Marie and Julie, offers family and friends carers support, guidance and friendship.
Family and friend’s carers are relatives, friends or other connected person who take on the care and responsibility of looking after a child or children. The child that is placed is known by the carers which is a unique position to be in. It is a job role you have not chosen but a role you have taken on with all the family connections and professional attributes required to safeguard the child placed within your care. Balancing the two worlds can be complex and confusing at times. The purpose of the group is to support and help in this journey, building friendships and support. The hub could be as simple as a tea and coffee morning with lots of cakes! Or a place where advice support and guidance can be given in lots of areas such as TDS workbooks, training, problems or issues. Support with PDP’s and other skills can be covered.
Foster Carer Association
The Foster Carer Association is made up an active group of carers and has a number of subgroups, one of which is an events committee, which focuses on events for fostering families. If you wish to become a member of the association, you have the opportunity to get involved with the development and delivery of the service. The association and events group, plan activities throughout the year, all provided free to our fostering families including a monthly coffee morning, annual trip to Gulliver’s World Theme Park, annual pantomime at Parr Hall and annual Christmas party.
Sons and Daughters
We know how valuable the help and friendship sons and daughters give to the foster children and young people who join their fostering household. These children may need a little help and support themselves, or just want to talk to others who share the same experiences. The Sons and Daughters group meet 6 times a year, usually during school or college holidays. It gives them the opportunity to meet other sons and daughters of carers, talk, share ideas and have fun.
In February the Sons and Daughters group completed the challenge of ‘The Betrayal of Cluetankhamun’ at Clue HQ Warrington! With 3:53 minutes to spare. Luckily Grace, Olivia and Ethan had all the skills needed to get us out! The group also met in April for a visit to Gravity.
Lone Carer Support Group
Each lone carer has the opportunity to join the Lone Carer Support Group. The group was formed in order to provide optimal support to lone carers and to enable socialisation with others in a similar situation. This is an informal group in which foster carers can reach out to each other for support and guidance. The group is solely run by lone foster carers and has an assigned foster carer as the administrator who welcomes new participants to the group.
The Mockingbird programme is an award-winning, sustainable foster carer model delivered by The Fostering Network. It sees a constellation of fostering households set up in a similar arrangement to that of an extended family, structured around the support and relationships that provides. It provides sleepovers, short breaks, peer support, regular joint planning and training and social activities.
Warrington Borough Council introduced the programme in 2020 and there are now 3 Mockingbird constellations, supporting a total of 36 children and their foster carers to have an ‘extended family’ that they can rely on for advice, friendship and practical support.
Craig, 47 has been a foster carer with Warrington Borough Council for 17 years. Craig is a Mockingbird hub carer, he tells us “the mockingbird project has meant I am part of a very supportive group, who I’ve got to know well. I have a fantastic supervising social worker who offers me all the support I need, and the children’s social worker is also very supportive.t”
Paula, 53 has been a foster carer with Warrington Borough Council for 5 years. Paula and her husband Dave are part of the Mockingbird constellation the Tucan’s. They tell us “we offer our support as deputies to Gill and Terry. The children enjoy the events organised also we have made many friends in our constellation. We have also made some really good friends within our LA carers who have been a great support when needed, Warrington carers are very supportive of each other.”