There are currently 527 children in Somerset who are not able to live with their parents and are “in care”. They are called Children Looked After -they are legally in the care of the local authority, Somerset County Council.
Most of these children are in foster care, living with wonderful people who have stepped forward to offer their time and expertise to give these children the best start in life. Especially during 2020 these people have opened up their home and lives to offer a secure loving home to those in need.
One of the most important roles I have as your Somerset County Councillor is involved with making sure these children get the best start in life. I am a Governor of the ‘Virtual School for Looked After Children’ that makes sure schools gives them the best education possible, a member of the foster panel that checks that foster parents have been assessed as suitable people to look after children and a member of the Corporate Parenting Board that oversees how Looked After Children are cared for.
I know there are some wonderful families in Stockmoor and Wilstock who foster. I want to thank you. We need more of you. Many more.
There is a huge shortage of foster carers in Somerset. 72% of the children whose homes are in Sedgemoor are in care outside of the area. 21% are outside of Somerset, many in hugely expensive private children’s homes, far away from their families and friends.
When I was working as a teacher in Bridgwater I was always astounded by the distances Looked After Children were living away from their home town. As a Head of Year, Children in my year group were taxied in from Frome, Yeovil, Lyme Regis and Weston-super-Mare every morning. They would have been better off if they could have been found places to live nearer to their school, friends, communities and families.
It’s not fair for the children. It’s not right for the community. The money spent on these placements would be better spent locally.
If you are interested in fostering there is lots of information about what is involved at https://www.fosteringinsomerset.org.uk/ or telephone 0800 5879900.
Written by Bill Revans