Two in five (40 per cent) fostered teenagers are already living with their third foster family since coming into care, according to a new survey of foster carers released today (1 June) by The Fostering Network.
The survey, covering over 1,600 fostered children and young people across the UK, marks the first day of The Fostering Network’s annual Foster Care Fortnight™ (1-14 June). It also found that 1 in 4 (25 per cent) fostered teenagers are living with at least their fourth family in care, with 1 in 20 (5 per cent) fostered teenagers living with least their 10th family in care.
The findings highlight the need to find more people who are willing and able to foster teenagers. There is also a real need for more foster families to offer homes to siblings and disabled children.
The survey also found that almost 1 in 3 (29 per cent) of children aged 5 to 10 are currently living with at least their third family in care, with one in five (18 per cent) living with at least their fourth family in care.
Being moved from home to home can have a hugely detrimental effect on children’s education, wellbeing and ability to make and maintain relationships. Not being able to find the right foster carer also means that children too often have to live a long way from family, friends and school and are split up from their brothers and sisters. Finding the right foster carer, at the outset of a child’s journey in care, can lead to stability, improved relationships and a positive experience of childhood.
The Fostering Network estimates that there is an urgent need for fostering services to recruit 8,370 new foster carers across the UK in 2015, to meet the needs of the rising number of children coming into care.
Jackie Sanders, director of The Fostering Network, said: “As each year passes, we see more and more children coming into care. We need people who can open their heart, and their homes, to vulnerable children and young people and use their skills to help support them to reach their full potential.
“In particular we need people who have the skills, patience and passion to look after teenagers who may have had a really tough time and be facing some real challenges, and to offer them love, stability and security.
“Fostering services throughout the UK are working hard to recruit and support foster carers with the right skills so that each child who needs it can have the home and family they need and deserve.”
Fostering services approved over 7,000 new foster families across UK in 2013/14, but recruitment remains an ongoing challenge to replace those who leave and to meet the needs of the children coming into care.
As well as recruiting new foster carers, fostering services must also make best use of their existing foster carer workforce. Local authority and independent fostering services must also continue to work together to ensure that the right foster carers, whoever they foster for, can provide the very best futures for the children in their care.
The Fostering Network brings together everyone who is involved in the lives of fostered children and young people to lead, inspire, motivate and support them to make foster care better. To support our work visit www.fostering.net/donate or to donate £10 text FOST37 £10 to 70070.