Children and young people of all ages and from all backgrounds come into care when they are unable to live with their birth parents for a period of time.
Every 20 minutes another child comes into care needing a foster family in the UK.
The reasons children come into care vary widely, including a parent’s short-term illness or another temporary problem within the family. Some children may have witnessed domestic violence or a parent’s depression or drug or alcohol abuse. Others may have been abused or neglected. Each child’s circumstances and needs are unique.
Around two-fifths of the children in care are aged 11 to 15 years. Finding foster carers for teenagers is a key priority for a number of fostering services in the UK.
Other fostering services will need foster carers to look after children with specific learning difficulties and disabilities, young parents and their babies, as well as groups of brothers and sisters and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children.
Children can be fostered from birth, right up until their 18th birthday. Legislation now exists in each of England, Scotland and Wales that supports young people to stay with their former foster carer up until the age of 21, and young people in education, employment or training can also stay with foster families in Northern Ireland.
Thousands of new foster families are needed every year.
There are many different types of fostering and each fostering service will need to recruit foster carers from a variety of backgrounds to meet the needs of local children in care.