Merthyr foster carers’ stories show everyone can ‘bring something to the table’ to support local children in care
- Categories : Press Release
- 08 Jan 2024
There are more than 7,000 children in the care system in Wales, but only 3,800 foster families.
We currently have 83 children and young people in foster care in Merthyr Tydfil; and we need more foster carers to ensure that all our children have the care and support they deserve.
Today, Foster Wales - the national network of 22 Welsh local authority fostering teams - set out with the bold aim of recruiting over 800 new foster families by 2026, to provide welcoming homes for local children and young people.
Foster Wales Merthyr Tydfil has joined the new campaign, ‘bring something to the table,’ utilising their greatest asset – current foster carers – to share realistic experiences of foster care and explore the small but significant human attributes people possess that can make the world of difference to a young person in care.
Foster Wales has spoken to over 100 people to develop the campaign– including foster carers, social workers, teachers, members of the public, and care leavers.
The responses from these groups highlighted three key things stopping potential carers from enquiring:
- A lack of confidence in their skills and ability to support a child in care.
- The belief that fostering doesn’t fit with certain lifestyles.
- Misconceptions around the criteria to become a carer.
Armed with this knowledge, Foster Wales has drawn on real stories of carers in Wales to show that local authority fostering is flexible, inclusive, and comes with extensive training and professional development opportunities.
“We already had all the skills we needed to become foster carers – and more people need to know they have the skills too”
Hear from our Foster Carers, Chloe and Corey:
Chloe and Corey are foster carers in Merthyr, and they currently care for teenagers. They knew for a while that they wanted to foster but had never considered fostering teens until they started their fostering journey. They’ve found that being a young, laid-back couple has helped them bond with the young people in their care. And that patience, understanding and being a team are incredibly important skills to have as foster carers.
“We have recently learnt that sometimes taking a step back is a good thing and letting them come to you when they are ready is the key to breaking down barriers with certain teenagers.
"We work together as a team to overcome any worries, and everyone’s opinion is valued which is a vital skill in being able to support a child in care – making sure their voice is heard. We advocate for our teenagers and involve them in all the decision making.
"We recently had our first parents evening with C, and the only word used to describe him was ‘outstanding’ by each and every teacher. One teacher commented on the fact that C speaks extremely highly of us as his foster carers which they feel has helped him settle into high school with ease. C is thriving in school which I truly believe is echoing from his home life being so settled and content.”
Wales is leading the way in children’s services
Currently, Wales is in the process of a whole system change for children’s services.
The changes proposed in the 2021 co-operation agreement between Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru made a clear commitment to ‘eliminate private profit from the care of looked after children.’
This means, by 2027, care of children that are looked after in Wales will be provided by public sector, charitable or not-for-profit organisations, and the need for local authority foster carers is greater than ever.
Joanne Llewellyn, Head of Children’s Services in Merthyr said;
“We have incredible foster carers here in Foster Wales Merthyr Tydfil, who support our children by offering their experience, skills, empathy and compassion.
“There is always a need for more amazing people in our area to foster. It’s only with the dedication of our wonderful foster carers that we can ensure that all local children who need it, have a welcoming and safe place to call home.
“Foster Wales Merthyr is a very close-knit community, and the team around our foster carers always go over and above to ensure that you have the support you may need, as well as access to local knowledge, and a brilliant learning and development package. This is all provided so you can help children stay in their own local community, close to friends, their school, and everything they hold close.
“We encourage anyone who wants to make a difference to a child’s life to bring their skills and experience to the table and get in contact with Foster Wales Merthyr.”
The campaign begins on Monday 8 January across TV, streaming services, radio, digital, social media, and with various events in local communities across Wales.
For more information about fostering, or to make an enquiry, visit: www.merthyrtydfil.fosterwales.gov.wales