Could you become a foster family?

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More foster carers are needed in Oban to help meet Argyll’s demand.

This week sees the end of Foster Care Fortnight 2019 which saw efforts by the UK’s leading fostering charity to get word out that there is a huge need in the area.

Argyll currently has around 30 foster families, including a retired couple in Oban who have put their life skills to use and fostered more than 100 young people in the past 29 years.

Adrian Brownlee from The Fostering Network was at Oban Library last week to help raise awareness.

It can take up to a year for the fostering process and all the safeguarding checks to be carried out. The basics requirements for anyone wanting to apply to be a foster carer are being aged 21 or older, and having a spare bedroom.

The local authority checks to see if a young person’s wider family can help first.

‘Being a foster carer is a challenge. You have to be in it for the good, the bad and the ugly, but it’s hugely rewarding to be able to make such a difference to a young person’s lifetime opportunities,’ said Mr Brownlee.

‘A shortage of foster carers is a national issue, it’s not just here in Argyll. We need carers for all ages, from babies up to 18. Some people do the long-haul and others just dip in for a season. They are all valuable to us. Carers who are grandparents also have so much to offer.

‘There is a definite need in Oban. There’s a huge need, a constant need. The numbers of children coming through from Argyll and Bute are not huge in themselves but we need to make sure we have the capacity so they don’t have to go another area.’

There is also a continuing care scheme for 16 to 21-year-olds and if the young person wants, they can remain until they are 26. There are also different types of fostering, from respite to emergency and long-term.

‘We aren’t able to pay wages to fosterers but there is an allowance and a fee. The taxman recognises the unique contribution being made by fosterers and they are exempt, added Mr Brownlee.

Last week it was revealed that foster carers in Argyll receive more than double the allowance than those in the Highlands.

For youngsters aged up to four-years-old, Highland Council pays a weekly allowance of £77.69, the lowest rate in Scotland and less than half of the £196.71 per week being offered by Argyll and Bute Council.

If you think you could be a foster carer, call 01546 605517 or email fpduty@argyll-bute.gov.uk