AT LEAST 8,600 new foster families are needed across the UK during 2014 to provide stable, secure and loving homes for the record numbers of fostered children, according to figures out today from the Fostering Network.
Tonight, almost 63,000 children will be living with over 52,500 foster families across the UK. More foster families are needed not only to replace the 12 per cent who leave each year, but to ensure that children who come into foster care find foster carers who are right for them, have the skills and qualities they need, and are available now.
More foster families are particularly needed to provide homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups. Around 38,000 of the young people in care in England are aged 10 or older, and over 2,000 children with disabilities are currently in care because their parents couldn’t fully support their needs at home. Last year around 450 fostered sibling groups in England were separated, where the aim was for them to live together.
Without enough foster families willing and able to offer homes to these groups, 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 ideal skills and experience to meet their specific needs.
Research by the Fostering Network in 2013 found that in the previous two years one in three foster carers had felt under pressure to take children – usually teenagers – who they were not trained or supported to look after. One in 10 had felt under pressure to take in a child, again usually a teenager, when they felt they had no more capacity. Two in five had looked after children temporarily because the fostering service could not find a suitable long-term home.
Fostering can be a challenging job, and when the match between foster family and child is not ideal, it becomes even more difficult. Too many fostering relationships break down as a result; in England alone there are over 4,000 unplanned endings of fostering placements each year and one in three children in care live in two or more homes across the 12 months. A wider pool of foster carers makes it more likely that fostering services can find the right foster home for each child, first time.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “Children and young people come into care for a wide range of reasons, but all come needing professional, dedicated and compassionate support. Foster carers are remarkable people who open their homes to some of society’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people.
“Fostering services last year found over 7,200 new foster families in England alone, but recruitment remains an ongoing challenge. Fostering services across the UK need to attract a diverse range of foster carers who can meet the needs of children in care and who can offer as much choice as possible so that they can find the right home for each child, first time.
“We urgently need people who believe that they have the right skills and qualities to foster to come forward and make a long lasting positive difference to the life of a child. In particular, foster carers are needed to provide homes for teenagers and children with disabilities, and to help sibling groups stay together.”
An additional 7,000 foster families are needed in England, 200 in Northern Ireland, 850 in Scotland and 550 in Wales during 2014.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer people should contact their local fostering service. Details of fostering services and more information about fostering and becoming a foster carer are available from couldyoufoster.org.uk.
For more information contact the Fostering Network press office on 020 7620 6425 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Follow us on Twitter @fosteringnet
Notes to editors
1. Almost 63,000 children live with over 52,500 foster families across the UK each day. This is about four-fifths (78 per cent) of the almost 80,000 children in care on any one day in the UK (excluding the minority who live at home with their parents). Around 30,000 more children come into care over the course of 12 months, with similar numbers leaving the care system to return home, move in with another family member, live with new adoptive families, become subject to a special guardianship or residence order or move on to adult life.
2. The Fostering Network annually calculates recruitment targets, estimating the number of foster families that fostering services need to recruit during the next calendar year across the UK. The figures take into account a number of factors including the percentage of the foster carer workforce leaving each year and the rise in the numbers of children in care. For more information, see fostering.net/about-fostering/recruitment-targets
3. The Fostering Network is the leading charity for all those involved in foster care, and exists to make life better for fostered children and the families that care for them.
National and regional breakdown
Yorks and Humber
East of England