A total of £2.3 million of Department for Education (DfE) funding has been secured to transform fostering recruitment and retention across Cheshire and Merseyside.
Knowsley Council is working with seven other local authorities – Warrington (who are leading the project) Liverpool, Wirral, Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, Halton, and St Helens – on the programme which will be delivered over two years.
Over £1 million of the funding will go towards delivering a new, larger and improved Foster4 Recruitment Hub, which will launch in April 2024. The improved hub will help all councils in the consortium to deliver a more joined up approach to foster care recruitment and provide an offer that is attractive and supportive to prospective carers.
The remaining £1 million of funding will go towards the Mockingbird programme – which supports all cared for children and their foster carers.
The Mockingbird programme has been introduced in other areas, including Warrington, and is a highly successful model that supports and retains foster carers effectively. The award-winning, sustainable foster care model sees a constellation of fostering households set up in a similar arrangement to that of an extended family, structured around the support and relationships that provides.
Each constellation features an experienced Hub Carer at its core, providing crucial support for maintaining placements and ensuring stability and consistency for the children and young people in their care.
Funding has also been awarded for a regional recruitment campaign following the re-launch of the extended Foster4 Hub, where all seven local authority areas will promote the new and improved offer that will attract and support foster carers for years to come.
Cllr Margaret Harvey, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, said “I’m delighted to be part of this fostering project which will help to transform fostering recruitment and retention across Cheshire and Merseyside.
“A key priority for us is ensuring our children and young people get the very best start in life and that foster carers have access to the very best support.
“This funding will help to make a huge difference to children and carers through the Mockingbird programme, and the new Foster4 Hub and campaign will help to address the recruitment and retention challenges every council is currently facing.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer and request a free information pack today, please visit the Foster for Knowsley website or call 0151 443 3958.