Chef and author Lorraine Pascale is today (24 December 2014) unveiled as the government’s first Fostering Ambassador - bringing the same enthusiasm and dedication usually seen in the kitchen to supporting some of the country’s most vulnerable children.
Lorraine - who was fostered at 18 months old - is known by millions for her virtuoso baking skills but has shared open and honest accounts about her childhood, and ferociously campaigned for better support for foster children and their families.
As the government’s first-ever fostering ambassador, Lorraine will use her personal experiences to champion fostering as widely as possible, and encourage more people who are interested in opening up their home to a child in need of love and support to put themselves forward as foster carers.
Children and Families Minister Edward Timpson, who grew up with more than 80 fostered brothers and sisters, said:
As someone who grew up as part of a large foster family, I know only too well that fostering can be one of the most rewarding experiences life can bring, as well as having a life-changing impact on a child’s life.
Lorraine is an inspiration to many foster children and their parents. I’m delighted to have her on board as the government’s first Fostering Ambassador and I know together we can make a real difference in encouraging more people to open their hearts and homes to children waiting to be fostered.
Chef and author Lorraine Pascale, who was fostered as a child, said:
I’m extremely honoured to be invited to be the government’s Fostering Ambassador and very much look forward to working with the minister and his team in supporting their efforts to ensure fostered children and young adults receive the best care possible.
It’s a cause that’s extremely close to my heart and I know from personal experience how critical and important this work is. I very much look forward to getting started in the new year.
Over the coming weeks and months, Lorraine will work closely with the Children and Families Minister to boost the profile of fostering as a positive and rewarding option for looked-after children, and support government’s work to recruit more foster carers from a wide range of backgrounds and with the right skills and commitment to make a real difference.
The announcement comes as brand-new adoption maps showing the number of children waiting across the country for the love and support of an adoptive family are published.
Building on the successes of 2014, which saw a record 26% increase in adoptions and a 16% rise in the number of adopters, the maps will help those interested in adopting a child to find out more about agencies in their area and across the country, helping them to make an informed choice about which is right for them - wherever it may be.
Today’s announcements are just the latest step in the government’s reforms to overhaul adoption and fostering and improve support on offer through every step of the adoption and fostering journey - from filling in the forms to becoming an approved adoptive or foster parent, to bringing the child home for the first time.
In the last 2 years the government has also:
- changed the rules so that children in care can stay with their former foster families until their 21st birthday - enabling them to make the transition to adulthood and independence when they are ready, not at an arbitrary age
- provided £775,000 to help fostering services recruit and retain more foster carers from a wider range of backgrounds
- funded Fosterline - a confidential, free-of-charge advice service for foster carers
- streamlined the rules to make the foster carer assessment process clearer and more efficient
- changed the rules so that foster carers have the power to make day-to-day decisions about their foster children - such as haircuts and school trips - allowing them to get on with the job of looking after their foster child
- extended entitlements so that children in care going straight through to adoption have access to priority school admissions, the pupil premium and - from September 2014 - are eligible for free early education for 2-year-olds
- published the adoption passport, setting out the rights and entitlements of adoptive parents
- set up First4Adoption, a dedicated information service for people interested in adopting a child in England
- announced improved support for families post-adoption by a commitment to rolling out the Adoption Support Fund nationwide from May 2015 - a £19.3 million fund to pay for essential therapy for adoptive families as and when they need it
Notes to editors
- See the new, interactive maps and find out more about the work of First4Adoption.
- First4Adoption is the dedicated information service for people interested in adopting a child in England. Anyone interested in adopting should contact them on the First4Adoption website or by calling 0300 222 0022.