Kent Fostering Service is calling on residents to consider offering Emergency Bed Foster Care to vulnerable children.
The scheme provides a haven for children and young people, aged between 0 and 17, who need an immediate place of safety at a time of crisis. It was developed to provide swift, emergency support to children who are unable to remain living in their current home.
Kent Fostering currently has just three fostering families providing Emergency Bed care. During the last year, these carers have supported over 100 children and young people, ranging in age from a just a few weeks to 17 years old. The service is keen to recruit many more foster carers.
Recent government figures suggest there are currently 78,150 children in the care system in England alone, the highest proportion of children in care in the last decade. It is estimated that around 72% of those children are in foster placements and numbers continue to rise with a nationwide shortage of foster carers struggling to meet this demand.
The Coronavirus pandemic has presented further challenges whilst children continue to require the safety and security of foster care.
Foster Carers, Justina and Chris Hind have been providing care through Kent Fostering for seven years, more recently supporting some of Kent’s most vulnerable children and young people through the Emergency Bed Scheme.
They said: “As foster carers, for us Christmas is about creating something special for children who were merely strangers to us only a few weeks ago.
“We specialise in emergency foster care, so the foster children that come to us often arrive at short notice, sometimes in the early hours of the morning or late at night, tired and frightened. Although they have been removed from their home for their own safety, the alternative initially is daunting.”
“Being an Emergency Bed Carer, requires a certain level of flexibility, including being able to take children and young people into our home on the same day we are told about them.
“Our own families embrace our roles as foster carers and as a foster family. They too welcome our foster children without hesitation and as we approach Christmas, there are always extra presents under our tree, and plenty more chairs around the dinner table.
“We ensure that our home is a safe, stable and nurturing environment offering support to a child or young person during a time of crisis, meeting and exceeding their emotional, physical and material needs whilst they are in our care for only a short space of time.”
The scheme runs on a rota of six weeks on two weeks off. In addition to this, Emergency Bed Carers are entitled to 14 nights holiday allowance per year, rising to 16 nights for Skilled or Advanced level carers.
Mark Vening, Head of Kent Fostering, said: “Our service works extremely hard to make sure that all children and young people that come into our care have the best possible support available. As a service, we strive to find a stable, safe, and secure home where they can thrive and grow into successful young people and adults.
“Emergency carers need to be prepared to take a child into their home at short notice, at any given time, day or night. Children will usually stay for only a few days, whilst longer-term plans are being considered. As an emergency bed foster carer, you will take on a transitional role, either supporting the child to go home to their parents or helping them and their future carers to live together.”
To find out more about Kent Fostering and how you could become a foster carer call 03000 420 002 or visit www.kentfostering.co.uk for more information.