Croydon Council currently supports about 180 fostering households in the borough and is very keen to hear from people who can look after young children and teenagers from all backgrounds.
Fostering involves looking after a child or young person as if they are a member of your own family. This means doing all the normal things you would with your own children - being involved in their school life, taking them to doctor and dentist appointments, being actively involved in their recreational and social activities.
Being in care can be really difficult. Children who are passed from home to home feel so alone, because there are no constants in their lives.
Fostering is one way to help a child feel more settled and give them a loving environment in which they can begin to thrive.
There are a number of different types of fostering placements, ranging from emergency, short term placements to permanent fostering. There are normally about three to six months between an initial enquiry and someone getting their first foster placement.
Croydon Council have produced a number of case studies to help give a flavour of what fostering is all about.
Here are 'Kevin' and 'Jamie's' stories:
Kevin is ten. He was adopted when he was three but sadly his adoptive family never really bonded with him. His adoption broke down when he was eight.
Since then Kevin has lived in a Croydon children's home. The children's home has found that Kevin thrives in an environment where there are consistent boundaries and lots of opportunities to succeed and be rewarded.
Kevin is desperate for a new family to grow up in but he needs a family who will be able to cope with a child who can be rude and defiant as well as kind and affectionate.
Jamie is six. He is currently living at a respite care unit for children with special needs. Jamie loves riding on buses, trains and trams. He has a large collection of small cars which he likes to line up in long traffic jams.
Jamie has an autistic spectrum disorder. He can easily become agitated, particularly if his routine is altered. Jamie is the fourth child in a family of six.
Jamie's mum and dad have struggled to meet his special needs and keep him safe while meeting the many demands of their young family.
To help people understand the process and commmitment involved in fostering, Croydon Council run information sessions where people can meet a member of the fostering team and speak directly with existing foster carers.
Come along to the next one, 21 November 2012, and help make a difference to a Croydon child. Click here for more information.
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