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Around 500 children are in foster placements across Somerset. The county has just over 200 approved fostering households..but more are needed.
Foster care has changed dramatically over the last 30 years and is now seen as a career, uniquely combining family life with a skilled profession. And it's not just families that can do it but single people, those in same-sex relationships and unemployed people. You can do emergency fostering, ready to receive a child immediately when social workers feel it's essential to remove them from a particular situation. Or you can do more long-term fostering where you look after them for weeks, months or even years.
Heart's been speaking to both foster parents and youngsters who've gone into care. Chris and his twin brother were fostered when their Mum died of cancer. "Foster care really helped us to find a place to live, when we had no other options. Without out, we don't know how our lives would have turned out. Our schooling could have been badly affected. As it is, we both passed our exams and are now at university."
Single man Kelvin has been fostering for over 10 years. "I think it's important that it's not just families who are considered. Many of the youngsters I've looked after have been in need of a male role model in their lives and that's what I've tried to provide them with. When I look back over the years, I'm filled with a sense of satisfaction that I've made a positive difference to the lives of those I've fostered."
If you'd like to find out more, call 0800 587 9900 for an information pack.