Calls for more specialist foster carers to help in North Yorkshire

This story was published 15 November 2022

A recruitment campaign has been launched to sign up more specialist foster carers in North Yorkshire to help to cope with growing demand.

A man and lady walking through trees with a dog

Our fostering service is looking for people to sign up to become specialist carers to provide support for youngsters with the most challenging needs.

Managers at Fostering North Yorkshire have stressed that while looking after children and young people with complex needs can prove to be demanding, both the benefits and the potential emotional rewards are huge.

The recruitment campaign is aimed at attracting people with substantial experience of working with or caring for young people with complex needs to join a well-established team of foster carers.

While specialist caring is a full-time role, a specialist carer responsible for a child aged 16 receives fees and allowances totalling more than £840 per week, which is the equivalent to over £43,000 annually.

Our executive member for member for children and young people’s services, Cllr Janet Sanderson, said: “Working for a not-for-profit organisation such as Fostering North Yorkshire means that, unlike many private agencies, our resources go directly towards helping our young people, who are the most important people to us.

“We aim to offer homes as locally as possible within North Yorkshire as we believe keeping these young people local helps them on many levels including maintaining bonds with their extended family, friends and communities along with supporting their mental health.

“The difference a foster carer can make in their lives is immeasurable and you will truly be making a difference to a local young person in a real way, helping them to achieve all they can in life and offering the consistency and security they may never have had.”

There are currently 324 children and young people in foster care in North Yorkshire, including 16 who require specialist care.

Managers at Fostering North Yorkshire hope to have between 20 and 22 specialist carers at any one time, and the recruitment campaign is aimed at signing up another four households alongside the existing 16.

Potential recruits will need to have had previous experience of working with or caring for young people with complex needs and challenging behaviour, as well as an understanding of the effects of early childhood trauma.

The practical requirements will mean that anyone hoping to become a specialist carer will need to have a spare room at their home as well as access to transport and live in North Yorkshire.

They will also need to be available at all times for a young person in their home - if they are part of a couple, then this could be shared availability.

Julie and Mike have been specialist foster carers with Fostering North Yorkshire for nearly five years, since they made the move north from Essex.

They are currently fostering three children, one of whom arrived originally for a few weeks and is now living with them on a permanent basis. Another is a teenager with autism and the third is a teenager with challenging and complex behaviour.

The couple, who live in the south east of the region and have a total of 12 years of experience in fostering, have previously looked after a parent and a baby as well as unaccompanied children seeking asylum.

Previous fostering experience, as well as her work in the care sector meant that Julie could be fast-tracked to a specialist level.

She said: “Mike and I plan together and we make it work – we work with the professionals and social work teams and we share time spent with our grandchildren and foster children between us, factoring in our own family time.

“It does help to have a very understanding family, as things can become finely balanced at times. But our family realise what we do is important and that it really does make a difference for the children involved.”

Mike added: “Working in partnership with Julie has been a really positive experience for us both, and our skills really seem to complement each other’s. I tend to focus on the practical, physical side of things and Julie on the emotional, so we make a good team with our different skill sets. But there are no quick fixes – each child is unique and we are respectful of that.”

Fostering North Yorkshire provides carers with full and comprehensive training as well as access to a supervising social worker to provide support and advice to develop skills. There is a network of other specialist carers and fostering staff to provide support, as well as direct access to North Yorkshire County Council’s psychologists and other health professionals.

Read more details about Fostering North Yorkshire and how to become a specialist carer online or by calling 01609 534654.