Oxfordshire joins other councils to find foster carers for 11,000 children

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Oxfordshire County Council has joined other services in the South East in a bid to find foster carers for 11,000 children needing homes.

The scheme is the largest local authority fostering partnership in the country, as councils from across the South East have come together to increase the number of foster carers across the region.

With over 11,000 children in care across the South East, and fewer than 3,000 local authority approved foster carers, there is an urgent need to recruit more people to provide safe, loving, and local homes for children who need them.

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Launching today (Monday) Local Authority Fostering South East is a new virtual fostering hub bringing together the expertise of 20 councils – including Oxfordshire County Council – from across the region.

Oxfordshire County Council has joined other authorities in a bid to find foster carers for 11,000 childrenOxfordshire County Council has joined other authorities in a bid to find foster carers for 11,000 children
Oxfordshire County Council has joined other authorities in a bid to find foster carers for 11,000 children

Councillor John Howson, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Education and Young People’s Services, said: “Foster carers make an enormous difference to the lives of children who for various reasons need to be cared for outside of their own family. I am full of admiration and thank each and every one of them.

“Our service is not for profit and we are committed to keeping children and young people near to their birth families, friends and schools.

"Our aim is for children to have more stability by placing them locally with our own foster carers. We cannot do that unless we can recruit more dedicated carers."

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Local Authority Fostering South East will ensure prospective foster carers have access to a centralised platform for their initial enquiries about fostering and will see local authorities work collaboratively to provide the best support, right from the start of a carer’s fostering journey.

The new hub will be running marketing campaigns to raise awareness of this unique role and encourage more people to become foster carers. They will benefit from comprehensive training, generous financial assistance and ongoing support.

Natasha Sampson, South East regional strategic lead, said: “This is a really exciting time for fostering. For the first time in the South East, we are leveraging the collective skills, knowledge, resources and support of 20 local authorities to ensure children and young people have a stable home, in a loving family, which they all deserve.

“The new hub will make this possible by increasing the number of local foster carers and making sure they are well supported through their recruitment journey and beyond.

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“I would urge anyone interested in fostering to get in touch with us to find out more about becoming a foster carer with your local authority.”

Oxfordshire County Council is a proud partner of this national Department for Education (DfE) funded project, with Local Authority Fostering South East being the largest of nine regions taking part in this pilot programme.

Prospective foster carers will also benefit from a new fostering ambassador scheme, enabling them to speak to an existing carer to find out what this life-changing role is really like.

More information on becoming a foster carer can be found on the new regional website LAfosteringSE.org.uk and by following Local Authority Fostering South East on Facebook, Instagram and X (formerly Twitter).

Anyone interested in fostering can also contact the regional hub directly to speak to a member of the recruitment team by calling 0300 131 2797.