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      Fostering offers an unparalleled opportunity to positively affect a child’s life, and businesses have a role to play.

      by Matt Day, LIQUONA’s Creative Director.

      In essence, foster carers open their homes to provide a safe and nurturing environment for children who have experienced trauma or instability, offering them stability, love and support during a formative period of their lives.

      In doing so, fostering contributes to the welfare of society by providing an environment for looked-after children to thrive, increasing their chances of building a positive, healthy and productive adult life, and reducing the likelihood of negative outcomes such as homelessness, substance abuse and involvement in the criminal justice system.

      Fostering is something that seventy six thousand people undertake in England alone (Commons library).

      They support around sixty-eight percent of the one hundred and seven thousand children that are in care in the UK.

      However, with a 7% increase in children in care since 2019, it is estimated that 6,000 new foster families are needed in England alone to meet demand.

      Recruiting and retaining foster carers is a huge, yet CRUCIAL challenge (Yes I’m using caps for dramatic effect!), and it’s one that businesses can easily support, because many foster carers continue to work either full or part-time.

      So, what can businesses do?

      1. Encourage fostering!

      Foster Care Fortnight 2024 will take place from 13-26 May. Make this an event in your business to celebrate any carers, but especially foster carers, outline the need for foster carers and share information about what you offer to support staff who foster.

      2. Support the families of foster carers

      Fostering is often a family effort. You may not have any foster carers on staff, but you are much more likely to have staff, who as wider family are involved in fostering. Conduct a survey to find out not just who they are, but what support they may benefit from!

      3. Flexible work arrangements

      Offer flexible work arrangements, such as remote work options or adjusted schedules, to accommodate the demands of fostering. This flexibility allows employees to fulfil their professional responsibilities while prioritising the needs of their foster children.

      4. Additional leave

      Anyone pursuing fostering must go through assessments and intensive training first, often done in the evenings and at weekends to lessen the impact on employment.
      Ongoing training and personal development are also expected by authorities, plenty of this will benefit your business too, eg First Aid training.

      Staff who foster will likely be using their leave for some of this activity already.
      Businesses can support staff by allowing time off for recruitment and training as appropriate, and consider extra leave or occasional early finishes to help them balance life. A little will go a long way.

      5. Assistance & benefits

      Whilst foster carers will often describe the experience as one of the most rewarding things they ever did, they will also express that it takes every component of life ‘up a notch’; it is a lot busier and more demanding in every way. Consider what ordinary and practical support you would give to someone else with a lot going on in their life. You might pay for occasional takeaways to give them a treat and night off from the burden of cooking, or organise a support group of colleagues who check in and give practical support, give them a priority parking space at work etc.

      6. Share and celebrate

      People are usually intrigued by fostering and it raises lots of questions in people’s minds when the topic is up for discussion, however, if the opportunity is not raised people sometimes avoid the topic as it is a world they do not understand and so they can feel uncomfortable speaking about and feel clumsy in knowing what to say.

      Recognise and appreciate employees who are foster carers through gestures such as employee spotlights, acknowledgement in company newsletters, or special recognition events. Ask them to share with other staff their experience of fostering and ways that people can support and encourage their work.

      Celebrate their contributions to both the business and the community, and of course, celebrate with the wider world what you are doing. CSR is worthy of PR!

      7. Be family

      It takes a village to raise a child. A child in care may have only the foster carer looking out for them in the way that family would.

      Consider the many roles the wider family take in supporting a child; gifts at Christmas, birthday cards, marking landmarks through the year, and passing on clothes, toys and furniture from your own family can all be good, but it is essential to discuss these ideas with the foster carer first, as sometimes these things can be unhelpful too!
      Tell the carer you would like to give practical support and ask what opportunities they can suggest.


      By supporting employees and their families who choose to foster, businesses not only develop their own culture of empathy and social responsibility but are contributing to the well-being of society as a whole.


      Along with his wife, Matt has been a Surrey Council foster carer and describes his own fostering experience:

      “Fostering has been the greatest adventure our family has had. It has been incredibly rewarding, and really good for our children too! We’re actually taking a break from it to focus on a few other projects, but we plan to return to it again in the future. That’s a point worth sharing – to know that fostering doesn’t need to be something you sign up to forever, but the difference you can make on young lives does last forever!

      Businesses can be a part of this exciting and invaluable mission too, simply by helping foster carers who also work, to keep on going!!”

      To help councils recruit more foster carers, LIQUONA has made a recruitment video for local authorities for just £0.99!

      If you know anyone working in a council communications or fostering team – Please share this link with them, and we think they’ll be very glad to hear about it.