Gloucestershire County Council is looking for foster carers in the county who can keep siblings together and provide a supportive, loving home for two or more children.
Currently around 870 children of all ages are in care in Gloucestershire, with many of these as part of a sibling group - and finding local foster carers is essential in ensuring that these youngsters can stay at the schools of their choice and close to friends and family.
Many children in the foster care system are forced to live apart due to the lack of carers able to offer a home big enough for two or more children, or due to the age difference between them being too large.
According to statistics, children who are kept with their brothers and sisters settle into their new home more successfully and begin to progress well - even more so if they have a close emotional bond. This is due to the siblings' shared experience helping them to support each other's emotional well-being throughout the process.
Being separated can make it difficult for brothers and sisters to maintain contact with each other. This is especially true if they are split up and have to go to foster homes in different parts of the country, because there isn't a local foster home in Gloucestershire where they can be together.
Not only is keeping siblings together important for their own individual wellbeing and growth, it's also particularly rewarding for foster carers, as they can provide a stable family home and see the children start to thrive both academically and emotionally, leading to a happier childhood.
Nikki, who is a teacher in Gloucester and has been fostering with her husband Gary for GCC since 2009, says: 'If you have the space, we would strongly encourage you to foster brothers and sisters. The joy of seeing them thrive together and share the most important memories far outweighs any of the difficulties.'
Other incentives include GCC paying a fostering allowance for each child based on their age; as well as paying foster carers a separate fee for each child, that recognises your time and skill as a foster carer. More complex fostering attracts a higher fee and gives carers the opportunity to progress in their fostering career as they gain the necessary skills and experience.
GCC welcomes applications from all sections of the community, regardless of race or religion; whether you are employed or not; whether you live alone or as part of a family; as long as you are over 21 and have a spare room or rooms in your home. There is no upper age limit to becoming a foster carer, as long as you are active and in good health.
For more information about fostering siblings in Gloucestershire, visit gloucestershire.gov.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (01242) 532654 for a no obligation conversation.