Fostering misconceptions remain, poll shows

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Media release

LESS THAN a third of the UK adult population (28 per cent) think they would be likely to be accepted as foster carers were they to apply within the next two years, according to the results of a new poll published today by the Fostering Network.

The YouGov poll of 4,818 adults, published to coincide with the start of Foster Care Fortnight, found that a number of groups, including single people, those with no children, under 25s and over 55s were even less optimistic about the likelihood of being accepted to foster.

The survey also found that 73 per cent of the population felt positive about foster carers and the work that they do, while almost one quarter (24 per cent) said they would consider fostering either now or in the future.

Commenting on the findings, chief executive of the Fostering Network Robert Tapsfield, said: “While it’s fantastic news that people feel so positively about fostering, we are worried that some may rule themselves out without knowing the facts on what it takes to be a good foster carer.

“It doesn’t matter if you are single or living as a couple, how old you are, or whether you have children, a job or own your own house. What matters is that you have the skills and experience to look after children separated from their own families, who have often been abused or neglected.

“Fostering is a challenging but rewarding job. We need more people to come forward and say yes to fostering and to making a real difference to the lives of the 63,000 fostered children across the UK.”

Gemma Waters and her husband Gordon, from West Lothian, have fostered 20 children over the past 10 years, and were approved to foster when they were both 21.

Gemma said: “Don’t believe the myths and the hype, age isn’t a factor when deciding to foster – it’s all about whether you’ve got the skills and commitment. Fostering is an opportunity to work hard, support children who can’t live with their families and I’ll never be able to tell you how rewarding it is to see a child you care for flourish into adulthood.”

There are currently 52,500 foster families looking after 63,000 children across the UK every day. The Fostering Network estimates that a further 8,600 families are needed this year alone, particularly to look after teenagers and children with disabilities, as well as providing homes to groups of brothers and sisters.

Unless the right foster carers can be found, children too often have to live a long way from family, friends and school, are moved from home to home, and are split up from their brothers and sisters. Finding the right foster carer can lead to stability and a positive experience of childhood.

To find out more about fostering and becoming a foster carer, see www.couldyoufoster.org.uk or contact your local fostering service.

ENDS
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For media enquiries contact the Fostering Network press office on media@fostering.net  or 020 7620 6425 or 07814 695751/07949 783075

Download the Foster Care Fortnight press pack for more facts and figures.

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Notes to editors

1. The poll figures are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 4,818 UK adults 18+. 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. The percentage of people who thought it was “very likely” or “fairly likely” that they would be approved as a foster carer if they applied to become one within the next two years were:

All respondents:                                              28 per cent
Adults living in a household with no children: 23 per cent
18-24 year olds:                                              22 per cent
Separated/divorced:                                        20 per cent
55 and over:                                                    19 per cent
Gay or lesbian:                                                19 per cent
Never married:                                                 16 per cent
Retired:                                                            14 per cent

3. A previous separate survey by the Fostering Network of 1,400 foster carers found that 19 per cent were single at the time they were approved to foster, and 16 per cent have no birth or adopted children. Average age at approval was 42 years, ranging from 21 to 68.

4. 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.

5. 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.