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31 August 2011, 06:00
Foster carers in two parts of the Thames Valley are going to get pioneering new support, after a £6 million grant was announced.
The money comes from a government fund, to be shared across 37 local authorities, including Reading and Oxfordshire. It's after pilot projects to help improve foster care in eleven parts of the country.
Oxfordshire County Council took part in the pilot, which saw dedicated support lines set up for foster carers, to give them round-the-clock support from child psychologists and medical experts.
Rosalie James is a foster carer in Oxfordshire and told Heart the new support was invaluable:
"Sometimes if a child is having an absolutely terrible tantrum, or you're outside somewhere, in a shop or something and think 'Where do I go from here', if you've got your mobile with you, you can ring somebody, which is so good."
Rosalie said the advice and training for carers has meant they are able to give better support to the children they are looking after:
"Say you have a child who is absolutely awful to take shopping, then the skills trainer will take them out shopping a lot and give them ideas on how they can cope and how you can cope too. This gives the child more confidence, which is the key to making them feel more settled."
The idea behind the scheme is to create the support for carers so the children stay in placements longer, explained Children's Minister Tim Loughton:
"The aim is to provide a wrap-around service for foster carers so they can offer a good, positive and stable placement for a child, so the child can stay in one place for longer and lead to a permanent placement somewhere."
"If we don't give these children a stable placement early on they are more likely to end up in multiple placements, they're going to cost the state more and social consequences are pretty dire. By giving them a stable placement they're more likely to end up in mainstream society, which is where we want them to be."
The £6 million investment will be shared among 37 local authorities, which the Minister admits is not ideal:
"I would love to be able to have more money, but at the moment because of the constraints on money it's a matter of using the money that we have as effectively as possible. That's why we're concentrating the money on things we know are working. And it's been proven that it does work in Oxfordshire, that's why the council's putting some of it's own money into the project too, because it's been shown that early intervention works."