Each day sees over 63,000 children living with over 52,500 foster families in homes across the UK. With a rising number of children coming into care, and around 13 per cent of Foster Carers retiring or leaving the service last year, there is a need to not only recruit more Foster Carers but also better utilise the current pool of foster carers. More foster families are particularly needed to provide homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups.
Kim Perkins, Registered Manager (Wales) for The Foster Care Co-operative said: “Children and young people in care have often had a very challenging start to their lives and Foster Carers really can make a difference by providing a safe and loving home.
Unfortunately, there are still a lot of misconceptions about who is able to foster that may discourage potential carers from applying. However, our experienced Social Workers are more than happy to provide further information and answer any questions so I’d definitely encourage anyone interested in fostering to contact us.”
Rose aged 55, who has been a Foster Carer for The Foster Care Co-operative for 9 years said, “I wondered if I would be accepted to become a Foster Carer as I am a single woman. I was reassured that this was in no way considered a disadvantage … The rewards are numerous, too many to list, but you do get an overwhelming sense of pride and a feeling of fulfilment.”
Without enough foster families willing and able to offer homes to these groups, some children will find themselves living a long way from family, friends and their school. It could also lead to them being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a Foster Carer who does not have the right skills and experience to meet their specific needs. These pressures can lead to relationships breaking down, and children having to make regular moves between homes. Some young people will also be living in residential care when fostering has been identified as the best option for them.
Ian Brazier, Executive Director for The Foster Care Co-operative said: “Careful matching is at the heart of what we do. Time is taken to match our Foster Carers skills and abilities with the children and young people being referred to us. This minimises the chance of the foster care placement breaking down and reduces any further upheaval, stress or anxiety for both the youngster and their foster family.”
Jackie Sanders, Director of Public Affairs at The Fostering Network, backs this up and says: “A wider pool of Foster Carers enables fostering services to be able to match the needs of each child more closely with the skills that each Foster Carer brings, and to find the right home for each child, first time.”
During 2015 an additional 6,900 foster families are needed in England and 550 in Wales.
Anne Bard, Director of Childcare (England) for The Foster Care Co-operative said: “We do need more people who have the right skills and qualities to foster to come forward and make a long lasting positive difference to the life of a child. You will soon realise that our organisation is quite unique; we are the only co-operative in Foster Care within the United Kingdom, and we use the structure and benefits that this provides to ensure that we are strongly focussed on the care of vulnerable children.
Also, we are a committed not for profit organisation, meaning we do not have any shareholders and the children and young people are placed with Foster Carers based on their needs and not to reach a numerical target.”