1 June - Celebration event marks contribution of foster carers
The achievements and commitment of Middlesbrough's dedicated foster carers have been celebrated at a special event
The achievements and commitment of Middlesbrough's dedicated foster carers have been celebrated at a special event.
The annual Foster Care Recognition Evening was held during Foster Care Fortnight and is part of a drive to meet a growing need for new carers in the town.
The event was opened by Middlesbrough Mayor Ray Mallon who paid tribute to the enormous contribution foster carers make to the lives of children looked after by the local authority.
This year's Recognition Evening was held at Middlesbrough Municipal Golf Centre and featured the launch of the town's Foster Care Charter which was compiled with input from both foster carers and young people.
The Charter is an affirmation of Middlesbrough Council's commitment to the town's foster carers and outlines the support and help that is available to them.
And there was a special award for local foster carers Linda and Brian Smith for their outstanding contribution to improving the lives of the children they have looked after.
The couple, from Linthorpe, have fostered 116 children over 26 years.
Middlesbrough's Fostering Service recently received an overall 'good' rating from Ofsted, with some elements of the service recognised as 'outstanding'.
Middlesbrough joined forces with other North East authorities to launch a campaign during Foster Care Fortnight to recruit new foster carers.
The number of children in care who need foster homes has risen over the past five years. It is estimated that nearly 9,000 new fosters carers are needed to meet demand across the UK as 14 per cent of the workforce retire or leave each year.
In Middlesbrough, there is a specific need for carers for large sibling groups and older children. With around 360 young people currently in the care of the local authority, the aim is to increase the number of foster carers in the town to 100 by 2014.
Family Placement Team Manager Lynn Woodhouse said: "The Recognition evening is our way of saying a huge 'thank you' to our foster carers - without their efforts we couldn't get the endorsement we have from Ofsted, and countless children's lives would be the poorer.
"I'd also like to thank the local businesses who sponsored this very special event - their contribution makes a real difference.
"But we still urgently need to recruit new foster carers in Middlesbrough, so I'd urge anyone interested to get in touch to find out more about what's involved.
"Our foster carers are a valued part of a professional team with a wide support network.
"They receive training and financial support, and in return reap the priceless emotional rewards that being a foster carer brings."