How do we get more male foster carers?

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Professor Claire Cameron and Katie Hollingworth (Twitter - @IOE_TCRU) work at the Thomas Coram Research Unit and specialise in research studies of children in care, foster care, and young people leaving care. Here they explain about a project they are undertaking to explore how to recruit more men to become foster carers.

Every year we hear there are not enough foster carers and that children do not have enough choice about where and with whom they live in foster care. One route to expansion of fostering is to encourage more men to get involved. This would help address gender inequality in society as well as the supply of foster carers. Whether they are single male carers or part of two parent households (male-female or same-sex couples), there is not yet enough research to inform policy makers about how to recruit more men to fostering.

This is where you can help.

At the Thomas Coram Research Unit at UCL Institute of Education we are carrying out a study of men’s roles as carers for other people’s children. As part of this we want to look at how and in what ways male foster carers look after fostered children.

This study is just the beginning. With the evidence collated now we will prepare a larger study that looks at male foster carers across different countries. It will raise the profile of male foster care with policy makers and, we hope, contribute to improvements in the ways we recruit and support male carers.

It's vital that we include men's experiences of caring for foster children. We want to find out more about what male foster carers do, their different roles and responsibilities and, if they foster with a partner (male or female), how the different roles are shared. We are also really interested in hearing about the positive things that have helped men as foster carers and any difficulties or barriers they have experienced.

Please look out for a web link to our online survey in June. We’re hoping that as many male foster carers as possible will complete the survey about roles, tasks, experiences and viewpoints on foster care.  We are also interested in hearing from women who foster about what role their male partners fulfil in caring for fostered children, ­so we are inviting everyone who fosters to help us build an up-to-date picture of everyday life in foster care today.

Professor Claire Cameron and Katie Hollingworth (Twitter - @IOE_TCRU)