PEOPLE not aware that they are eligible to become a foster parent has led to a shortage of carers in Burton.
Charity, Action for Childen which has highlighted a ‘foster care crisis’ in the West Midlands, stating that people believe myths such as men cannot foster, those renting cannot foster, and gay people cannot foster.
Sonia and Ken Matthews, from Winshill, are keen to dispel such myths. They have fostered 55 children over 20 years and lived in a rented house when they fostered their first child.
Mrs Matthews told the Mail: “A long time ago things were different, there wasn’t the training there is now. Lots of things have changed and fostering services in general are more open minded. “It’s not just a case of 2.4 children - you can be single, gay, black or white – it’s very diverse now.
“People don’t have to be married - single carers can foster - you don’t have to be in a relationship.
“We have an excellent network in Burton where we get together regularly and help each other through tricky times. When the children move on we know they are moving on for the right reasons.”
Mrs Matthews said there was a lack of realisation within families today that they could be potential carers, adding, “There are myths about how hard it is. It’s not easy, you’ve got to make sure you are not causing any more disruption for the child. The process doesn’t always take such a long time – about six months.”
She also told the Mail that the hard work of social workers was often forgotten, adding: “Social services are in the media for bad press. People don’t see the success stories.”
Staffordshire county councillor, Alan White, cabinet support member for care said: “There are lots of different types of fostering, including short term, longer term and weekend care to give children and their carers a break. It’s really flexible nowadays and can usually be fitted around other family and work commitments.
“We are always looking for new foster carers and I would encourage anyone interested to get in touch.”