The manager of a leading fostering agency is urging people not to be deterred by some of the myths that surround the application processes.

Cheryl Jillions, Registered Manager at Little Acorns Fostering Agency, based in Haverhill, said: “There are so many myths surrounding the process of becoming a foster parent. We want to dispel these myths so more people come forward to provide vulnerable children with a loving and supportive family environment.”

“Whilst the assessment of becoming a foster parent is thorough, it is to ensure the safeguarding of vulnerable children. We need to check that the potential family have all the right ingredients to become a foster carer. Anyone who applies to become a foster parent will be treated with complete respect and will receive excellent support. We aim to make their application as smooth as possible.”

“As part of the application, the potential foster parents will have to go before a panel. But it isn’t the daunting experience many expect. Families will be made to feel comfortable and treated with dignity and respect. They will also be well prepared and briefed prior to appearing. Here at Little Acorns, we train carers and undertake detailed matching processes to find children that would fit with their own circumstances and the child. Once a child is placed, the foster parent becomes part of a wider support network, including local authority social workers and other professionals, all ensuring the child’s needs are met”

A Recently Approved Foster Carers View

Gemma Curtis, 33, recently approved with Little Acorns, has echoed the views of Mrs Jillions. Mrs Curtis, who lives in Haverhill, said: “The entire process took about six months to complete. From the beginning to the end, we had excellent communications with our assessing social worker and the agency. The process was always explained well and if we had any questions, they were always answered honestly and clearly.”

“We felt very comfortable when we appeared before the panel. Everyone explained their various roles and were extremely friendly and welcoming, which put us at ease. The Little Acorns team have been fabulous throughout our journey. We can call them or pop in at any time if we need to. Don’t be put off by the process, whilst it was in-depth, it was also a learning process and we now can’t wait to welcome the first child into our home’

Little Acorns launched a campaign last July after it was revealed there is a significant shortage of foster parents in the East of England. Figures by the Fostering Network showed an additional 610 foster families were needed in the East of England in 2017. According to statistics from the DoE, during 2017, the number of children that came into care in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk increased by 115.

For more information on Little Acorns Fostering go to www.littleacornsfostering.co.uk. Alternatively, you can telephone on 01440 732010 or email enquiries@littleacornsfostering.co.uk

Further information on fostering can be found at the Fostering Network at www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk