Over 8,500 foster families are needed across the UK over the next year according to new figures published today (Monday 13 May) by the UK’s leading fostering charity.
The Fostering Network calculates annual foster family recruitment targets, taking into account a number of factors including the percentage of the foster carer workforce leaving each year and the change in the numbers of children in care. This year’s figures show a need for 7,220 new foster families in England, 250 in Northern Ireland, 580 in Scotland and 550 in Wales.
The Fostering Network’s call for more foster families comes at the start of its annual Foster Care Fortnight TM campaign (13-26 May) which has the theme of #changeafuture, highlighting the positive impact foster care can have on fostered children’s futures and encouraging more people to come forward to foster.
Without these extra foster families being found during 2019 – particularly those that 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 matched with a foster carer who might not have the relevant skills and experience to meet their specific needs.
Foster Care Fortnight is supported by presenter and DJ Pandora Christie who was brought up by foster carers. Pandora said: ‘It’s really key to have a secure family unit around you that loves you and helps you navigate and understand yourself and the world around you. That is why foster carers are so important to children who, like me, haven’t had the best start in life. Fostering changed my life and by becoming a foster carer you could change a future.’
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: ‘Fostering is life-changing for both the child or young person being fostered and for the family that cares for them.
‘Foster carers do something amazing on behalf of our society – making a real difference to a child’s life. Across the UK a child comes into care in need of a foster family every 20 minutes. On any given day, there are around 65,000 children living in foster care with thousands of foster families who are working tirelessly to ensure that these children and young people experience the stability and security of a nurturing, loving home.
‘Along with fostering services around the UK, we are calling on people who think they have the right skills and experience to change a fostered child’s future, to find out more about fostering this Foster Care Fortnight.’
Connie, a foster carer from Manchester, said: ‘There has not been a day where fostering hasn’t lived up to what I dreamed it would be. It is the most rewarding job I have ever had. It could just be a smile, or one sentence and you know that all your hard work and love and dedication is making positive changes for the children. I can recommend fostering to everybody because it’s the best thing I have ever done.’
Anyone interested in fostering can visit thefosteringnetwork.org.uk to find out more, or they can follow the Foster Care Fortnight campaign using #changeafuture.