PEOPLE ACROSS Wales are being asked to think about the amazing work that foster carers do on Wednesday 21 May, Fostering in Wales 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 3,500 foster families look after more than 4,500 fostered children on any one day in Wales. Despite Welsh people the most likely to consider fostering in Britain, there is a need for a further 550 families to be found across the next 12 months, particularly to look after teenagers, children with disabilities and groups of brothers and sisters.
A recent poll found that:
• 72 per cent of the Welsh population felt positive about foster carers and the work they do;
• 28 per cent said they would consider becoming a foster carer now or in the future, compared with a GB average of 24 per cent;
• 28 per cent think they would be very or fairly likely to be accepted as foster carers if they applied with the next two years.
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 Wales 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 Wales, Freda Lewis said: “Fostering in Wales Day is a real chance to celebrate the amazing work that foster carer do, and the difference they make in children’s lives.
“We also want to get people thinking whether they have the skills and qualities needed to foster.”
Roger March a foster carer from west Wales, said of his journey into fostering: “When I met Caroline she had just started fostering and had two boys aged eight and nine. I was 56 and widowed with adult children.
“I got on so well with Caroline’s boys and all of a sudden I recaptured what had happened with my own children’s childhood. These lads had very different difficulties but there was a buzz. When I married Caroline I was also marrying into fostering.
“It has been a learning curve helping children develop, finding out what they could do and looking for ways around their difficulties. I had worked all my life in family courts, but none of this prepares you for the reality of fostering, including the pleasure and joy.”
Foster Care Fortnight is supported by Welsh deputy social services minister Gwenda Thomas. In support of the campaign she said: "Foster Care Fortnight is a time to celebrate the many and varied achievements of foster carers in Wales. I would like to say a personal thank you for all of the hard work foster carers put in on a day to day basis in providing love and support for some of our most vulnerable children and young people.
“I wholeheartedly support the theme of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight. It is vitally important to illustrate that foster carers do not conform to perceived stereotypes. Indeed we want to attract people from all backgrounds and walks of life to provide loving homes for all of the children and young people in foster care, reflecting the diverse backgrounds and needs of those who need foster placements.
“If you feel you can offer a child a home, then I urge you to contact your local council or independent fostering agency who will be able to start the registration process.”
To find out more about fostering and becoming a foster carer, see www.couldyoufoster.org.uk or call Fosterline Wales on 0800 316 7664, 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 email@example.com 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 284 were living in Wales. Fieldwork was 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. Our Guess Who Fosters game show will be available on the Fostering Network’s website www.fostering.net on Wednesday.
3. 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.
4. 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.