People considering fostering a child are being encouraged to take the first step and find out how they can help the hundreds of Wiltshire children needing a loving home. Wiltshire Council aims to recruit 20 to 30 new households a year so more children needing foster care can be looked after locally. There are about 170-180 children placed with Wiltshire approved foster carers at any time. Laura Mayes, cabinet member for children’s services said: “In Wiltshire there are around 400 children in care, but we need more foster carers so that local children in need of a foster family can be cared for locally. These children range from new-born babies to older teenagers and groups of siblings – both of which we particularly need people to foster. “I understand it may be difficult for some people to take that next step, but the support and help is available for those who take on this important and rewarding role.” A new simpler payment system has also been introduced to make it easier for prospective foster carers to see how much they are entitled to per week based on the types of fostering. It allows foster carers to progress and receive increased payments as their skills and experience develop. The types of foster placements can vary from short term, perhaps due to a family crisis or serious illness of a parent, or longer term placements for children who are not able to return to live with their parents or families for a range of reasons. Some children need to be matched permanently with carers so they can grow up in a safe and secure family environment. In addition some foster carers provide care in an emergency situation for a short period until appropriate accommodation can be found, or the child can return to their family. This is often during the evening or at weekends. These carers are paid a retainer for holding an emergency bed and an allowance for looking after a child. Other carers provide support and accommodation for a young parent and their child and help to assess them. They help to assess the young parent and give them practical and emotional support, while they develop the skills to help them take care of their child and stay together as a family where possible. Foster carer Alan Case and his wife Wendy, have cared for nine children in the last three years, including for respite over a weekend and longer periods of weeks or months. He said: “Fostering is a real team effort. It is quite demanding and it’s not like a job because it’s 24/7 and each child is completely different and comes with their own set of circumstances, but it’s really one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done. “We take them in for what, in the grand scheme of things, is a very period of short time. We’re there to look after them and to give them a home and the love and attention that they deserve, so they can then go onto their onward journey.” The fostering team hold regular drop in information sessions where you can find out more about becoming a foster carer and there is no need to book. The next information session is on 29 November at County Hall in Trowbridge, from 7pm.