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Foster Care Fortnight - How You Can Change the Life of a Vulnerable Child

23/05/2016 17:15 | Updated 23 May 2016

As someone who was raised in a family that fostered, it's clear that fostering is not just a one-way street. I've seen foster children from my family go on to flourish and succeed, which is why my parents, and many other foster carers do it.

According to the Fostering Network, every twenty minutes across the UK, a child comes into care in need of a foster family. This means that during Foster Care Fortnight alone over 1,000 children will require a foster family.

As a Minister whose family fostered around 90 children, I know first-hand the vital role foster families play. I've seen children whose own families cannot look after them, and who need help, support and love.

Of course there have been difficult times. But I've also seen the real benefits for the children we fostered and for the rest of my family.

There is no time like the present to take that step into fostering. Foster carers come from all walks of life, from all kinds of backgrounds and with all manner of experiences. And because different children have different needs - there is no one size fits all in foster care. It isn't only for married couples, younger adults, homeowners, or those who don't already have children.

Foster carers who are looking after a child also receive an allowance, covering the cost of that care, and in some cases are also paid a fee.

There have already been changes made and money given to help support and train foster carers. We've also brought in new rules so that care leavers can stay with their foster families until their 21st birthday - enabling them to move on to adulthood and independence when they feel they are ready, not at an arbitrary age.

As a government we're working closely with councils to help them recruit more foster carers who can meet the needs of children harder to place, such as sibling groups and children with complex needs. We have also quickened up the approval process and provided money to trial innovative approaches to foster carer recruitment.

Across the country recruitment is improving and the government wants to broaden the range of foster carers available for children in care, which in turn helps improve placement stability and permanence

So, during this Foster Care Fortnight - why not think about how, like my family, you can help change the life of a vulnerable child and take that first step to becoming a foster carer.

Edward Timpson is the children and families minister, and Conservative MP for Crewe and Nantwich

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