October 23 2014 Latest news:
by Robin Cottle, Reporter
Friday, March 7, 2014
There are more than 200 children in foster care in Havering.
With only 87 registered foster carers with the council, it is clear more are needed, especially to take in teenagers.
This week Havering Council launched a campaign to encourage people to open up their homes to teenagers.
The 11-15 age category is the most in need group and the council is trying to provide as many stable homes as possible.
One former foster child, 18-year-old Jenny, talked about her experiences of growing up in care in the borough.
She said: “I was in a number of different homes and at times it was a bumpy ride.
“But generally I was accepted by the foster families and I’m in touch with the last one, which I left in October last year. The experiences helped make me the person I am today.”
To foster, all you need is a spare room in your house. Carers receive generous allowances from the council, which takes into consideration holidays, birthdays and ocassions such as Christmas.
Allowances vary but fosterers taking in 16 or 17-year-olds can expect to be paid £278 a week.
Jenny, whose brother also went through the care system, praised the support she has received since leaving care – young people continue to have a personal adviser until they are 21, or 24 if they are in further education.
“The support I’ve received has been amazing,” she said.
“Most people are quite scared when they go into foster care, with the whole idea of leaving your parents.
“I was separated from my brother at times, and that was quite difficult, but it taught me life skills and how to deal with different situations.
“I could have contact with my parents if I wanted to and I might when I’m older. For now I need to concentrate on my studies.”
The age children stay in foster care has changed with youngsters now being able to stay with families until they are 21.
Cllr Paul Rochford, cabinet member for children and learning, said this is the first time for a number of years the council has focused on asking people to foster teenagers.
He added: “We want people to know that the majority of children in care are teens.
“They need support and guidance as much as, if not more, than any child.”