Iris The Goo Goo Dolls
For some families the festive season is a stressful time, which can heighten underlying tensions that may then escalate out of control.
West Sussex County Council has established a specialist, intensive fostering scheme when children need to come into care as a result of a crisis in the family.
The Fostering Emergency Support Programme (FESP) works intensively with the family, the child in care and the foster carer to resolve family difficulties to return the young person to their family within three months. The programme has seen a 30 per cent increase in demand for its work with West Sussex families over the last year.
FESP foster carer, Candy Warner, says: "I really enjoy being a FESP foster carer because I feel very much part of a professional team. We all work together for the common aim - solving the issues so the child in my care can return to their family.
"Most of the children I've looked after are aged 10+. Although there are certain issues between themselves and their parents, I have never experienced them when they stay with me. Through the tools and skills learnt on the programme you do see a change in both the family and the child. That's fantastic to see and know you have been played a part in getting the family back together."
Cabinet Member for Children and Families, Peter Evans, said: "The economic climate we live in does mean that, for some families, the festive season can be a very stressful time.
"Family crises do happen but West Sussex County Council's FESP means that families can resolve their difficulties and prevent young people remaining in care unnecessarily. The intensive work done by the FESP with the family and young person means that relationships are improved so a family breakdown in the future can be averted."
West Sussex County Council makes sure a full package of training and support is provided to all its foster carers to meet the needs of the children and young people.
Anyone who's interested in fostering West Sussex children and young people can call the Fostering Recruitment Team on 01403 229333 or visit www.westsussex.gov.uk/fostering.