West Yorkshire foster carers honoured at celebration event

Picture captions (top) "Children enjoying the inflatables at the Foster4Yorkshire event."

(bottom) "Councillors, staff and foster families from across West Yorkshire, joined by Leeds Rhinos' mascot Ronnie the Rhino."

Issued on behalf of Foster4Yorkshire

To mark the start of national foster care fortnight, hundreds of foster carers from across West Yorkshire were honoured at a celebration event in Leeds at the weekend.

Foster4Yorkshire, a recently-established group of representatives from West Yorkshire’s five local authorities in Leeds, Calderdale, Bradford, Kirklees and Wakefield, came together to host the event, which was held at the John Charles Centre for Sport on Sunday 12th May.

With a chronic shortage of more than 8,000 foster carers nationally, and an increase of at least 6,000 children who have come into care in the UK since 2007, Foster4Yorkshire hopes the event will also encourage more people in West Yorkshire to take up foster caring with their local council to help tackle this shortfall.

The celebration event, which was attended by foster carers, along with their birth and foster children, proved to be an enjoyable day for all the family. Players, mascots and coaches from local Super League rugby teams were also on hand to teach some basic ball skills and there were activities such as bouncy castles, face painting and games to keep everyone entertained.

Councillor Judith Blake, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children’s services and spokeswoman for Foster4Yorkshire, said:

“Foster carers do an amazing job. It is thanks to them that we are able to provide stable and loving homes to some of the most vulnerable children in West Yorkshire. As well as providing a really fun day out for everyone, this event has been about saying a big thank you to all the foster carers from across West Yorkshire who between them, have looked after thousands of children.

“However more people are urgently needed for the ever-increasing number of children who enter our care system on a daily basis. The number of children in West Yorkshire who are in foster care has risen in recent years to more than 2,100 and is set to continue increasing. This is a trend that is mirrored nationally due to heightened public awareness about child protection following several high profile cases in recent years.

“When a child goes into care, the chances are they will have experienced some degree of upheaval during their short lives. Fostering for a local authority helps ensure that children are fostered in their home town or city, cementing existing links with their local community and often allowing them to remain in their own school, providing stability at a time of immense change.

“By working together with other local authorities in West Yorkshire, we can share ideas and resources, as well as reach out to more families, to ensure that we can continue to do this as effectively as possible.

As part of its aim to provide easy-to-access information for prospective foster carers in West Yorkshire, Foster4Yorkshire has also launched a new online portal where people can access a wealth of useful information, including videos, case studies and links to each local authority’s fostering webpage.

Cllr Blake added:

“The need for more foster carers to come forward and take up this vital role has never been more critical and we desperately need more long and short-term foster carers for babies, toddlers, young children, teenagers and sibling groups of various ages and abilities. Our newly-launched portal contains everything people need to know about fostering in West Yorkshire and I would encourage anyone who is interested in finding out more to visit www.foster4yorkshire.org.”


Notes to editors

1. Foster Care Fortnight 2013 runs between 13-26 May 2013 and is an annual campaign aimed at raising awareness about fostering.

2. Local authorities in West Yorkshire are aiming to recruit new foster families during 2013-14. Figures for each local authority are broken down as follows:

Leeds: 100

Bradford: 35

Calderdale: 30

Kirklees : 45

Wakefield: 50

3. Carers who foster with their local council look after children on a regular basis and continually develop and utilise their skills and expertise with a range of training and support. They are supported by dedicated teams of experts and can join a network of carers across their local area all working to improve the lives of vulnerable children and young people.

4. Foster carers come from all ages and backgrounds:

• Single – male or female, Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, married or living as a couple

• Divorced or widowed

• With or without children

• Any religious faith or none at all

• Any cultural background

• Homeowners or renting

• Employed, retired or on benefits

• With or without professional childcare experience

• With or without qualifications

For further information on Foster4Yorkshire please Eva Peros on: 0777 322 6554.

For media enquiries regarding Leeds City Council and Foster4Leeds please contact Emma Whittell on 0113 2474717 or email emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk