Cornwall Council is looking for carers who would consider fostering sibling groups to coincide with the national Foster Care Fortnight campaign.
The Council’s fostering team has launched the campaign in the hopes that, by keeping sibling groups together, they remain together and can help and support each other throughout their time in care and until they reach independence.
This year the campaign has been supported by the Cornwall County Choirs, who have recorded a special version of ‘A Million Dreams’ from ‘The Greatest Showman’ as a thank you to the foster carers and support workers in Cornwall.
Cornwall Council’s Strategic Director for Together for Families, Meredith Teasdale, said: "We wanted to use Foster Care Fortnight to say a massive thank you to all the people who care and support young people in Cornwall, they are all stars.
“We are always looking to add to the number of foster carers, especially for sibling groups across Cornwall. We want to keep brothers and sisters together as much as we can and most children who come into foster care are part of a sibling group.
“Being a sibling group makes it difficult for us to find foster homes for them but keeping them together is so important. Becoming a foster carer can make a hugely positive difference to a child’s life.
"It is also very rewarding experience for carers to help those children develop and, ultimately, reach independence together. If you think you are ready to care for a sibling group and change those children’s lives forever by becoming a foster carer, we would like to hear from you."
Every 20 minutes another child comes into care needing a foster family in the UK. Every day there are about 65,000 children living with 55,000 foster families. Fostering offers children and young people a home when they are unable to live with their birth family. In Cornwall, this equates to around 450-500 children and young adults in care at any one time.
Thousands of new foster families are needed every year to care for children, with the greatest need being for foster carers for older children, sibling groups, disabled children and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
Sometimes children only stay with a foster family for a few days, while others will live with their foster family for their entire childhood and beyond. Many of these children have experienced abuse or neglect prior to coming into care.
Fostering is often their first positive experience of family life. Despite the trauma experienced by children coming into care and their difficult start to life, good foster care can help to transform their lives and enable them to flourish. Fostering offers children a safe and caring home and plays a big part in supporting them to maintain links with their birth family.
Foster carers come from a variety of backgrounds and bring a wide range of life and work experiences with them. They work as part of a team of professionals and receive training to develop the skills required to meet the needs of children in their care. Alongside this professionalism, they offer children love, warmth and stability.
There is a particular need for foster carers to come forward to foster teenagers, sibling groups and children with complex needs. Without more people coming forward to foster children might have to live with a foster family a long way from their home, be split up from their brothers and sisters, or may have to move from family to family and school to school.
Joanne and Colin are foster carers in Cornwall, they said: "We started fostering when we lived up country, about five years ago, and the first placement we had was two lovely boys, both brothers. They didn’t stay for long because it was only a respite, but they were lovely boys and they settled really well.
"Whilst their other siblings were separated off, these two remained together. They fought (as siblings do), but by the time they left us a year later they’d found a new friendship with each other. They were able to play together and get along more, than when they did when they first arrived. We decided from that point, if we were going to have other children, then we would take the older sibling groups.
"They were the ones that less people wanted, but we did. We work well with them and they work well with us. It was such a pleasure that it actually spurred us on to do fostering more permanently and we took two younger boys: siblings from a large family group. When they came to us it was quite traumatic for them, but the one thing they had was each other.”
Cornwall Council are looking for people who have time, love, empathy and flexibility to help these young sibling groups flourish.
If you think you could change a child’s life forever, get in touch with Cornwall Council’s fostering team now on 01872 323638
You can find more information on the Council's fostering pages: www.fosterincornwall.co.uk