Call to celebrate fostering in Scotland

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Media release

PEOPLE ACROSS Scotland are being asked to think about the amazing work that foster carers do on Monday, Fostering in Scotland Day.

The special day is an opportunity to celebrate the work that thousands of foster families do across the country, as part of the Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight (12-25 May).

Some 4,400 foster families look after more than 5,300 fostered children on any one day in Scotland. Despite Scottish people being extremely positive and confident about foster care, there is a need for a further 850 families to be found across the next 12 months.

A recent poll found that:
• 73 per cent of the Scottish population felt positive about foster carers and the work that they do;
• 23 per cent said they would consider becoming a foster carer now or in the future;
• 33 per cent think they would be very or fairly likely to be accepted as foster carers if they applied with the next two years. This is compared with a UK average of 28 per cent, and is higher than in Northern Ireland, Wales or any English region.

Across the UK, the poll found that younger people, those over 55, single people and those with no children were less likely to think they could be accepted. Fostering in Scotland Day gives a real opportunity to bust these myths, as in fact:

• There is no legal minimum age to become a foster carer, though in general they will be 21+;
• There is also no official upper age limit on being a foster carer;
• Single people can foster as well as married or cohabiting couples;
• There are many gay and lesbian foster carers;
• Foster carers do not need to own their own home;
• People don’t have to be parents to foster.

What is important is that foster carers have the right skills and qualities to look after children separated from their own families, who have often experienced abuse or neglect. Discover what these skills and qualities are with our skills checklist, explore the different types of fostering and learn about the road to fostering.

Director of the Fostering Network Scotland, Sara Lurie said: “Today is real opportunity to focus on foster carers in Scotland and the amazing work that they do, and to encourage others to see if they have the skills and qualities needed to foster.

“We’ll be sharing the stories of fantastic foster carers and care leavers on social media throughout the day – join us on Twitter at #FCF2014.

Natalie Innes, from South Lanarkshire, became a foster carer five years ago when she was 24. She says: “Fostering is something that brings so much to our family life. Being a foster carer is an immensely rewarding life and I can’t see myself doing anything else.

“I’d encourage anyone who thinks they might have the skills to care for vulnerable children to get in touch with a fostering service and to see if it’s for them. If you have patience, love in your heart and room in your home why not see if you can give a vulnerable child a new start?”

19-year-old Shannen Mamara said: “I have been in foster care for nine years and have been lucky enough to stay with the same foster family. Carol and Billy and their family never made me feel out of place, they all made me feel so welcome and made it feel like my home too.

“I didn't get on well at school, but started in college to study hairdressing and have managed to get some amazing qualifications. There is no way I would have got them if it hadn't been for my foster carers pushing me to try my best.

“I wouldn't change this family for the world, they are my family now and will always be part of my life.”

Foster Care Fortnight is supported by children’s minister Aileen Campbell MSP. She said: "I am grateful to those people who, already open up their homes and commit themselves to provide care and support for some of our most vulnerable children.

"I fully support this year's Foster Care Fortnight campaign , which aims to encourage even more people, from a wide and varied range of backgrounds, to consider whether they too could provide a safe, supportive and secure family life and give a brighter future for those children, by applying to become a foster carer."

To find out more about fostering and becoming a foster carer, see www.couldyoufoster.org.uk, contact Fosterline Scotland on 0141 204 1400 or fosterlinescotland@fostering.net, or contact your local fostering service.

For media enquiries and to arrange interviews with foster carers or our spokespeople, contact the Fostering Network press office on media@fostering.net or 020 7620 6425. Follow us on Twitter @fosteringnet

Notes to editors

1. Poll figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,818 UK adults 18+ of whom 612 were living in Scotland. Fieldwork undertaken between 28 April and 1 May 2014. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

2. Foster Care Fortnight (12-25 May) is the Fostering Network’s annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and to help fostering services attract and recruit new foster carers.

3. The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in fostering, and exists to make life better for fostered children and the families that look after them.