Networking website for foster carers

FOSTER carers in Norfolk will today join the Facebook generation as a social networking website, which allows them to share experiences, successes and advice, is launched.

FOSTER carers in Norfolk will today join the Facebook generation as a social networking website, which allows them to share experiences, successes and advice, is launched.

Fosternets has been designed to give them 24-hour access to an online community which understands what they are going through.

From today, any of Norfolk County Council's 320 registered foster carers who have e-mail addresses will be able to log on to the site to chat about the trials, tribulations and treasures associated with their jobs.

Mike Woodward, Fosternets project manager for the council, said the chance to talk over problems with colleagues or ask questions in the workplace, which many people took for granted, was not an option for carers. He said: “A foster carer's definition of their job is that they do it in their own homes. They are not part of a team like the offices you or I are in - we talk together about what was on TV last night, or what's bothering us at work. Their job requires them to be home-based and that makes it difficult for them to do that.”


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Fosternets will provide carers with a virtual water-cooler experience, as well as giving them easy access to learning resources, details about council-run training courses and forms and documents.

Mr Woodward said the size of Norfolk meant carers were spread across a large area, making it difficult to arrange events. He said: “We try to offer support groups and training events across a large area, but the numbers are not always high. Here, they do not need to move.”

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Within the next couple of months, about 2,000 workers linked to the council's children's services department will also be able to log on to the site, giving carers the chance to quiz professionals too.

Sylvia Risebrow is a carer from North Walsham who used Fosternets during its trial period and had already made herself known to other foster parents across Norfolk.

The mother-of-two, who has looked after about 30 children over the past seven years with her husband Alan, said: “A lot of carers feel in isolation because of the nature of the work we do. This will be an excellent way of communicating with each other and with the professionals we are working with.”

The 51-year-old, who has two foster children aged 11 and 17, is also involved in training other carers and believes the site will be a great way for them to learn about the opportunities open to them.

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