Fostering recruitment hubs go live!

The Government plan and initiatives through “Stable Home, Built on Love” are now taking effect and being implemented. This is with the development and set up of fostering recruitment hubs for Local Authorities to work together on their foster care recruitment and marketing.

The Government allocated £36 million toward this project on its planning, consultation, set up and now delivery. There remains a significant shortage of foster carers across England and it is hoped this can bring increased enquiries, interest and conversion through to approved foster carers.

The new recruitment hubs aim to benefit from shared best practice, marketing resources and saving costs through the joint approach. The hubs can benefit from targeted recruitment together including new shared websites and online marketing. The team for each hub can support with the response to fostering enquiries, initial visits and then sharing these with the relevant member Local Authority. The recruitment hub and Local Authority would then work together to take forward any application through to approval. Each foster carer would become approved with their relevant Local Authority. It is hoped the response time, engagement and conversion can be improved. It is important to note how valuable new carer enquiries are and all the relevant information and time should be shared. The hubs can help challenge the questions raised over the difficulty when fostering and cover important questions including income levels, tax and fostering, the benefits, assessment process, foster carer training and other questions. Becoming a foster carer is an important and life changing decision. It is so very rewarding and it is about understanding how you can make such a difference to children and young persons for their well being, happiness and stability.

There are 10 fostering recruitment hubs across England overall. This initiative started in North East England in September 2023 with this being the first hub called Foster With North East – this covered 12 Local Authorities across that region.

For North West England, there are recruitment hubs covering this region targeting new foster carers.

· Foster4 – this covers fostering services for Cheshire East, Cheshire West, Halton, Knowsley, Liverpool, St Helens, Warrington and Wirral

· Fosterwithus – this fostering recruitment hub covers Blackburn, Blackpool, Cumberland, Lancashire and Westmorland & Furness

You Can Foster also covers Local Authorities across the North West including Manchester, Oldham, Wigan and other areas.

The recruitment hubs also plan to incorporate the Mockingbird Fostering model which is effective for carer retention, supporting each other and stability. The aim is having a hub foster carer at the Centre that is experienced that can connect with up 6 to 8 other fostering households. This allows for mentoring, supporting each other and extending relationships. It can provide for activities together including visiting the local park, celebrations, meals together – these help build relationships. Beacon Fostering will be incorporating the Mockingbird model as the agency develops and progresses.

The overall focus on recruitment hubs will hopefully prove successful and beneficial in bringing in new carers – Beacon Fostering wishes to support the fostering recruitment hubs initiatives and work in partnership with the Local Authorities. The latest figures now show there being over 100,000 children in care which is a record level. Foster Care Fortnight highlighted the shortage also with an estimated level of 6,500 or more fostering households being needed.