Charity calls for 7,000 more foster families, particularly for teens and siblings

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Media release

More than 7,000 new foster families are needed in the coming year to ensure that all children can be found the right foster home first time, according to leading fostering charity The Fostering Network at the start of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight (8-21 May). The need is particularly for families to offer homes to teenagers and groups of brothers and sisters.

The new figures, calculated by The Fostering Network, show that 7,180 families are needed across the UK (5,900 in England, 640 in Scotland, 440 in Wales, and 200 in Northern Ireland). In addition, the charity found that:

  • 97 per cent fostering services have a particular need for foster carers for teenagers;
  • 86 per cent fostering services have a particular need for foster carers for sibling groups.

Across the UK, 60 per cent of looked after children are teenagers and, in England alone, there are 455 groups of siblings who have been separated despite being assessed to live together.

The survey also revealed a growing need for more parent and child foster carers, with 57 per cent of fostering services identifying a need in this area. These foster carers look after young mothers or fathers who are experiencing difficulties and their babies, helping them to develop their parenting abilities and hopefully keeping the parent and child together in the longer term.

Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: ‘A child comes into care in need of a foster family every 20 minutes in the UK. Without more foster families coming forward during 2017, and especially people who could foster teenagers and siblings, some children will find themselves living a long way from their family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who might not have the right skills and experience to meet their specific needs.

More foster carers means that a fostering service can match the needs of each child more closely with the skills that each foster carer brings, allowing them to find the right home for each child, first time. That is why, this Foster Care Fortnight, we are calling for people to come forward to foster, particularly if they have the skills and experience to foster teenagers or sibling groups.

Matthew, a foster carer of teenagers for five years said: ‘Seeing a young person enjoy their life, will forever leave an impact on mine. I suspect most teenagers seem “difficult” at some point - that is what makes them teenagers - but there is a sense of achievement when you see a young person’s life being transformed after a difficult beginning.

‘I would encourage anyone thinking about fostering to come forward because there are so many more teenagers out there who need a secure home environment to help them stabilise their lives and move forward.’

People who have a spare room and think they have the relevant skills and experience to be able to look after fostered children, many of whom will have experienced trauma or neglect, can find out more at www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/couldyoufoster.

Overall, at least 7,180 new foster families are needed across the UK during 2017 to provide stable, secure and loving homes for record numbers of fostered children, according to figures released today from The Fostering Network.

The need is for:

  • 5,900 foster families in England
    • North East: 360
    • North West: 1050
    • Yorkshire & Humber: 610
    • East Midlands: 440
    • West Midlands: 770
    • East of England: 530
    • London:  830
    • South East: 830
    • South West: 480
  • 200 foster families in Northern Ireland
  • 640 foster families in Scotland
  • 440 foster families in Wales

Notes to editors

For more information or interviews please email media@fostering.net or phone 020 7620 6441. For local case studies and foster carers please contact your local fostering services.

  1. The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading fostering charity. We are passionate about the difference foster care makes to children and young people. Transforming fostered children’s lives is at the heart of everything we do.
  2. Foster Care Fortnight™ is The Fostering Network's annual campaign to raise the profile of fostering and to show how foster care transforms lives. It is also the UK's biggest foster carer recruitment campaign. Foster Care Fortnight 2017 will take place from Monday 8 to Sunday 21 May.
  3. 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.
  4. The recruitment needs survey of fostering services was carried out online during March and April 2017, with 124 fostering services responding.