A PROPOSAL to make Blaenau Gwent a fostering friendly council has been welcomed by councillors.

The initiative was brought before councillors for a decision at a meeting of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council on Thursday March 21 and is supposed to help address a shortage of foster carers throughout the UK.

The report explains that the UK Government has called for employers to become “fostering friendly” as part of the national push to encourage more people to become foster carers.

They want to “bust the myth” that people are not allowed to work once they become a foster carer.

The report explains that to become a fostering friendly employer, the council will need to offer a flexible working policy which is already in place.

They will also need to offer foster carers and those preparing to be foster cares a minimum a minimum of five days paid leave to be able to fulfil their commitments.

Council leader, Cllr Stephen Thomas said: “There is a national shortage of foster carers leading to children being placed far from their communities and experiencing multiple re-locations which adversely affects their wellbeing.”

He added that the Welsh Government, Bridgend, Flintshire, and Swansea councils are all part of the initiative.

Cllr Thomas told councillors that adopting the policy would “enhance” the council’s reputation and would help local foster care recruitment and support.

Cllr Julie Holt said: “I’m glad to see this coming forward as it’s been a long time in coming.

“It may be a long term cost saving because it may encourage more foster parents to come forward.

“Having been on the foster panel, I know how difficult it is for some people to take it on – but if they have more consideration at work and the ability to take leave it will be a good thing for children in foster care.

“This will be helpful all round,”

Cllr Tommy Smith said: “This is very welcome, there’s a clear shortage of foster carers in Blaenau Gwent and in Wales.”

He was also pleased that the policy would be sent to all school governing bodies for consideration.