Appeal for foster carers

FOSTER parents are desperately needed in Somerset villages to home troubled youngsters. There are currently 275 children from Somerset and 110 from North Somerset who need foster homes and less than 60 carers in both areas to look after them, according to

FOSTER parents are desperately needed in Somerset villages to home troubled youngsters.There are currently 275 children from Somerset and 110 from North Somerset who need foster homes and less than 60 carers in both areas to look after them, according to Rural Fostercare.The independent foster care agency has no carers on its books from towns and villages such as Cheddar, Axbridge, Wedmore and Shipham, and managers are appealing for people to sign up to help disadvantaged children.David Patterson, Somerset area director and founder of the agency, said: "There is a real shortage of carers and the number of children needing homes is set to increase over the next four years."We like to keep the children in the same area they live as much as possible, but we desperately need more carers to do this."Children need foster homes for a variety of reasons, ranging from parental illness to family breakdown and drug and alcohol addiction. The organisation also homes young parents with babies, people with learning difficulties or women and children fleeing domestic violence.Local authorities also have their own foster carers, but work with independent agencies when they need more help.Rural Fostercare was set up five years ago and provides foster carers across the South West.Sue and Keith Cox, from Burnham, have been fostering for eight years and have looked after 12 children.Sue, aged 49, and 54-year-old Keith, have four children of their own, although only their 18-year-old son Robert still lives at home. They have also been fostering two boys, aged 12 and 15, for over five years.Sue, who is a full-time foster carer, said: "We felt we'd like to help other children who needed a home."There's no guarantee how long they're staying when they come to you, they can be with you for a week, or stay for years."It's extremely tiring on occasions, and it's exhilarating on others. When a child, who has been excluded from school so many times and has never spent a year in the same one, spends his first year in the same school with you, it's what you're doing it for. "I would recommend foster caring. You have to go into it with an open mind and you are not going to be able to perform miracles on some of these children, but you can certainly give them some basics and some hope. We have seen some marvellous changes in the children we have cared for."Sue and Keith, who is an independent financial advisor, treat their foster children as part of the family and find camping trips a great way to break the ice and form lifelong bonds.Foster carers are given ongoing training, 24-hour support and home visits and are paid £275-£600 per week, depending on experience. Anyone interested in becoming a foster parent can call Rural Fostercare on 0845 8720650.


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