Warwickshire County Council is keen to find experienced foster carers for its Treehouse network.
Treehouse Fostering is an extended family model supporting foster carers to improve their confidence, help others on their fostering journey and find solutions that work for their family. Within this role, a central foster carer (known as a Treehouse carer) supports a number of foster families (known as branch carers) by providing a range of support to the carer network and a ‘home from home’ to the children they foster. This innovative model of extended family fostering was introduced in Warwickshire a year ago following success in other areas and provides additional peer support and opportunities for social events between carers, which may not happen in a more traditional fostering model.
The support offered between the Treehouse carers and the branch carers aims to improve relationships, create extended family networks and improve stability within homes. Support for both carers and the children and young people they look after can include:
- regular planned and unplanned sleepovers
- planned daytime care
- peer support events
- social events
- emergency support
- advice and guidance.
Foster carers Michelle and Ray were the first Treehouse carers in Warwickshire, and have built relationships with branch carers. They’re now looking forward to developing their extended family network. Talking about why she became a Treehouse foster carer, Michelle said,
“I've always worked with children and young people. From leaving school and going to college, I studied childcare and then worked as a preschool teacher for seven or eight years. Some of the young people that I came across over the years were young people in care and it was just thinking ‘we could probably make a difference [to] their lives’.
“We began in mainstream fostering. When me and my husband were first talking about fostering, we really wanted to foster siblings. We've always looked after teenagers, which has been great actually. My fostering social worker at the time said: I think you two would be great for it [Treehouse fostering]. And I said I would love to do something like that!
“Even if you feel like you can't do it and you don't want to commit long term, maybe start with respite and offering short breaks, weekends, holidays and build from there, build your confidence.”
Councillor Jeff Morgan, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Services, commented,
"A priority for Warwickshire County Council is to ensure children and young people are supported live their best lives, but we can’t achieve this alone.
“Warwickshire County Council’s foster carers provide an invaluable role within our communities and we understand that everyone has different commitments, so we are pleased to be able to offer a range of foster carer roles meaning people can find a balance that works for them.
“Creating a Treehouse network means children gain an extended family, whilst also providing carers with respite, support and a listening ear. Experienced foster carers stepping up as Treehouse carers play a vital role in helping us achieve a Child Friendly Warwickshire, where every child is safe, skilled, heard, healthy and happy.”
If you foster for Warwickshire and would like to know more about the Treehouse network and how you can get involved, please contact the Fostering team by calling 0800 408 1556 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in finding out more about fostering for Warwickshire, visit: www.warwickshire.gov.uk/fostering.