Foster Care Fortnight - Community Foster Care's Chief Exec gives the lowdown on her first live web chat

"Today I took part in my first web-chat, hosted by The Guardian on the subject of recruiting and retaining foster carers. I was very nervous as not only was I representing Community Foster Care but also Fostering Through Social Enterprise, so I felt a lot of responsibility! It was a most interesting debate and for a first-timer like me, it moved at a fast pace at times so whilst I was responding to a question, by the time I had posted it, the discussion had sometimes moved on!  

"The panel was made up of people with experience of being in care, those who provide care and people who support people either in care or giving the care - so lots of experiences for everyone to draw on. We all recognise the benefit of having a Foste Care Fortnight where we focus upon the excellent and tireless work that our fantastic foster carers do and within Community Foster Care we have to thank Sue, Iain, Kirstin, Rob, Wendy, Carol, and Angela who have given up a lot of their time to give live radio performances but also interviews with the local press. Thanks also to Chris and Marion who have supported the foster carers and worked with the press over the last week or so.
"But the main message was that Foster Care Fortnight does not end on 27 May - it goes on throughout the year and we need more foster carers to come forward to look after a range of children - all with differing needs. On our website we have the stories of a number of our foster carers giving the reasons why they came forward many years ago and we know that fostering is something that people think about for a long time as it is a way of life.
"Another element of the live discussion today was about what happens once foster carers are approved and ensuring they are properly supported and provided with training opportunities. There were one or two contributors who felt they had been let down by their agency which was sad to read. 
"Foster carers, staff and social workers should all work together to ensure the child or young person’s needs are met and that they have all the resources they need to reach their potential. At Community Foster Care, one of the things that we aim to do - and I believe this has really come across from our foster carers - is to have a foster care service that feels like a family and I believe this is a reality! Having support from our wonderful Gavin, who provides activities, swimming club on Mondays, football on Wednesdays, and Meg in Cumbria who takes the children to the library to choose their books, is like having an extended family member who cares deeply for the children. 
"Today’s debate has been really interesting and I am ready for the next one!"
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