You don’t have to be a good cook to foster, revealed children and young people in foster care as part of a new survey conducted by The Fostering Network to mark the start of Foster Care Fortnight 2016 (16-29 May).
Instead the overwhelming call was for foster carers who can provide them with security, support and love.
261 care experienced children and young people were surveyed on a range of issues aimed at identifying what they consider to be the key qualities and skills needed to foster, and about the difference these qualities made to the lives of children living in foster care.
The top three qualities that these children and young people identified as key to making a good foster carer were:
• making them feel safe and secure (67 per cent)
• supporting and helping them (61 per cent)
• loving them (54 per cent).
Adam,19, is living with his foster carer in Scotland, said: ‘Foster care saved me and rebuilt me. I was shy, timid and awkward with little life prospects.
‘Fostering opened the doors to a vast amount of opportunities: allowing me to go to university, allowed me to take up almost every hobby know to the world and allowed me to become a member of The Scout Association.’
When asked what made a good foster carer, Adam said: ‘This may sound really silly, but caring. There needs to be a passion to deal with these young people who often come from horrific conditions and you need invest time, belief and strength in them. It cannot be underestimated the importance of a strong role model on a young person. You need the skill of seeing light in times of darkness because these young people will lean on you through some of their lives.’
While important for some, only 14 per cent thought that being a good cook was an important skill in a foster carer. Stars of The Only Way Is Essex, Debbie Douglas and Lydia Bright, took place in a 20 minute bake off to highlight the fact that a child comes into care needing a foster family every 20 minutes in the UK. Watch Debbie and Lydia's twenty minute bake off here!
The Fostering Network is calling for 9,070 foster families to come forward right across the UK to give loving homes and supportive family environments to children (7,600 foster families in England, 800 in Scotland, 500 in Wales, and 170 in Northern Ireland). In particular there is an ongoing need for more foster families to provide homes for teenagers, disabled children, unaccompanied asylum seeking children, and sibling groups.
Without more foster families coming forward during 2016 some children will find themselves living a long way from family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who does not have the right skills and experience to best meet their specific needs. There is then a significant risk that a child’s placement will breakdown, further disrupting an already traumatic childhood.
If you believe you have the skills that children and young people want in their foster carer, visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/could-you-foster today and find out more.