The report was presented by Naintara Khosla.
Councillor Pothecary thanked foster carers for their hard work and care. She commented that the branding was good. She asked whether the service had followed up on people’s enquiries into foster care to identify and if there was evidence that the council tax exemption had attracted more foster carers. Naintara Khosla answered that the service followed up on people’s enquiries to identify why they had not progressed onto being a foster carer. She said that most people were unable to meet the requirements of being a foster carer or that it did not fit in with their lifestyle and some people did not want to enter into a detailed assessment where they would need to disclose their private lives. Following a campaign in March, there had been an increase in April which tapered off in May and the campaign had to be relentless and ongoing. The council tax exemption had helped existing foster carers.
Councillor Pothecary questioned whether the service could do more to support potential foster carers such as supporting someone to upsize their home to acquire a spare bedroom for a foster child. Sharon Smith said that some people had the impression that fostering would enable them to acquire a bigger home and that this was not the right idea to have. She explained that not everyone was keen on the whole process of becoming a foster carer or the lifestyle of it as the whole family had to be involved as well.
Councillor Muldowney asked whether the branding would show ethnic diversity on posters and if the rebranding had been done in house. Naintara Khosla said that the rebranding had been done in house and that the poster branding was still being considered.
Councillor Carter questioned whether there was a key demographic group that the service was targeting to become foster carers. Naintara Khosla explained that the marketing was generic to ensure as much interest as possible. Through social media channels, different age groups were targeted in line with the age group users on each platform.
The Committee agreed to suspend standing orders for an extra 30 minutes at 9.24pm.
Councillor Polley sought the opinion of the Children in Care Council (CICC) on the rebranding. She also asked the Foster Carer Association Team if Thurrock was a good place to foster. The CICC representative said that the colour was appealing but that foster care was not all colourful as it was a big change to the child and the foster carers’ lives. It was also not an easy process. Annie Guidotti added that Thurrock’s CICC would be participating in other CICC’s in the eastern region.
In answer to Councillor Polley’s question, Sharon Smith said that Thurrock was a good place to be a foster carer as there was support and training in place. She said that she had been involved in the rebranding and that the colours and pictures had been chosen by a group of foster carers who felt these appealed to them. Jenny Josling said that she had joined Thurrock as a foster carer five years ago and that Thurrock had been her first choice. She felt the incentives were good and welcomed the recent council tax exemption.
1.1 Members were updated on the Thurrock’s Fostering Recruitment Strategy and the brand.
1.2 Noted the marketing activities to create opportunities to develop increased recruitment of foster carers.