More than 8,000 new foster families across the UK need to be found in the coming year to ensure that all fostered children can be found the right foster home first time, according to leading fostering charity The Fostering Network. The need is particularly for families to offer homes to teenagers and groups of brothers and sisters.
The new figures, which have been published on the first day of The Fostering Network’s Foster Care FortnightTM (14-27 May), show that 8,100 families are needed across the UK (6,800 in England, 550 in Scotland, 550 in Wales, and 200 in Northern Ireland).
Without more foster families coming forward during 2018, and especially those who could foster teenagers and sibling groups, 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 families means that a fostering service can match the needs of each child more closely with the skills and experience that each foster carer brings, allowing them to find the right home for each child, first time, and to improve stability for fostered children. That is why, this Foster Care Fortnight, The Fostering Network is calling for people who think they might have the relevant skills and experience to come forward to find out more about fostering.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: ‘Foster carers do something amazing on behalf of our society. Across the UK a child comes into care in need of a foster family every 20 minutes, and thousands of foster families are willing to open their hearts and homes to these children, often offering them their first experience of a stable, secure and caring home.
‘Looking after fostered children, many of whom who have experienced trauma, abuse or neglect, can be challenging. But it is that challenge, along with the reward of seeing these children and young people flourish, that many foster carers say makes them proud to foster.’
Dennise, from London, has been fostering for 17 years with her husband Ian. She was born in Kolkata, India, and was influenced to foster by the work of Mother Teresa. Dennise said: ‘I am proud to foster because we are given opportunities to share ourselves, our home, our family, with young people who are in need, through no fault of their own, and to provide a safe, caring, non-judgemental environment for them to achieve and thrive.
‘I would say to potential foster carers that, if you can look beyond the immediate challenges and focus on the young person’s greatest needs such as acceptance without conditions, the rewards are second to none.’
People who think they have the relevant skills and experience to be able to look after fostered children, enjoy a challenge and have a spare room can find out more at thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/couldyoufoster.