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Local authorities in the East of England are working together to encourage more foster families to work with their local authority

Eleven local authorities in the east of England have joined forces in a bid to collectively recruit more foster carers to care for some of the region’s most vulnerable children.

Bedford Borough Council is taking part in a new foster care initiative under the Foster East banner. There is an urgent need for foster carers in the East of England, where more than 7,000 vulnerable children are already in the care of local authorities, with a further 150 children joining each month.

The Foster East initiative, funded by the Department for Education and launched today (Wednesday 29 May), is a new, collaborative approach to carer recruitment and support. The councils will work together to provide enhanced training, support and best practice. Each applicant is guided during their foster process at their municipality and through a buddy network. Foster East’s counselors help people figure out how foster care can become part of their lives.

In Bedford Borough there are more than 250 children and young people, ranging from babies to 18 year olds, who need safe, loving and nurturing homes where they can thrive and develop. Every local authority strives to keep children and young people local to their support networks, but due to a shortage of foster families in our region this is not always possible.

Fostering is a flexible role with short-term care options from one weekend a month to longer-term options, all providing life-changing support for local children.

Harmesh Bhogal, Interim Director of Children’s Services said; “Each council has the same objectives: to improve the experience our foster carers have during the application process, to provide sound training and in-depth support so they can care with confidence, and to increase the number of foster carers working with us. across the region so we can keep our children rooted in their local communities.

“Entering daycare is an extremely painful time for any child. If we can provide more loving foster homes in their communities, we can minimize disruption to their lives and ensure that these children can still attend their usual school, see their friends and relatives and participate in their usual activities , while giving them the support they need to thrive in a safe home environment.”

Foster carers who work at independent foster agencies are also invited to transfer to their municipality via Foster East. They will benefit from local training and a linked foster carer support network, which will provide respite care to foster families who need a break.

Foster East gives people considering becoming foster parents the chance to speak to an advisor daily from 8am to 8pm, and the chance to speak to an experienced foster carer to find out more about what the role entails and ask any questions to set. More information can be found at www.fostereast.org.uk

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