Prospective carers are being asked to consider fostering as a career, with those willing to help children who need extra support potentially receiving the equivalent of a £48,000 a year job.

Durham County Council’s new Fosterxtra initiative is seeking people who are undaunted by challenging behaviour and want to make a real difference to a child’s life.

Fostering team manager Florence Coulter said: “We have children who have been through some difficult times in their life and they need help to cope with their feelings, emotions and experiences.

“Some of these young people are in children’s homes, while others have moved many times, but they are no less deserving of the love and security that comes from being part of a family or the opportunity to enjoy a more positive future.

“We want to give them a stable home, and building on the success of our Fostering Plus pilot project, the Fosterxtra scheme will give prospective carers tailored support to help them professionally care for children and help them to recover from their past.

“You dont need any special qualifications but will need patience, tolerance, understanding, insight and the ability to stick with a child through the difficult times as well as the good.

“Together you can help to turn their lives around and enjoy the rewards and satisfaction that brings.

“In return you could also receive between £27,500 and £37,500 – which with foster carer tax relief could make it the equivalent of a £48,000 a year job.”

As part of the Fosterxtra scheme carers will receive assistance from a dedicated team of professionals, who will provide support and training tailored to their needs.

That includes a fostering social worker who will visit regularly to offer advice and support; intensive involvement from our specialist therapeutic team; family support workers available at evenings and weekends; respite care to offer families a break; and specific training to help develop knowledge of the child and how to care for them.

Foster carers will also receive regular support to help manage children’s behaviour; extra financial support; and become members of a dedicated support group.

For more information about Fosterxtra call 03000 269 400, email fostering@durham.gov.uk or visit the website, www.durham.gov.uk/fostering