AT LEAST 9,000 new foster families are needed across the UK during 2013 to look after the record numbers of children in care who need to be fostered, according to figures out today from the Fostering Network.
Despite the total number of fostering households going up to over 50,000 during the last year, thousands more are still needed as the number of children in care has increased for a sixth year in a row, and is continuing to rise.
On any one day, there is now a record 61,700 children living with foster families, with thousands more coming in and out of care throughout the year.
More foster families are needed to replace the 13 per cent of the workforce who retire or leave every year. These figures show the scale of the challenge facing fostering services as they struggle to provide the right foster homes for all the children who need them.
The charity is warning that without these new families, too many children will fail to get the care they need. Some will live in children’s homes when a foster family would be the best option for them. Others will end up living with a foster carer a long way from the child’s home, school and family, or a carer who has space but may not have the experience and skills to meet the child’s specific needs.
This can put such a strain on relationships that they break down, meaning children are moved around time and time again, suffering even more disruption to their often already traumatic lives.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “Despite fostering services attracting more people to become foster carers, the continuing rise of children coming into care means thousands more are still needed this year alone. In particular we know that fostering services are looking for foster carers to offer homes to teenagers, children with disabilities and sibling groups.
“These children need a stable family life to help them grow and achieve their potential. By becoming a foster carer people can help them have the best possible opportunity for a positive future, to do well at school and be successful in later life.
“Fostering services are looking for people from all walks of life to become foster carers, of all ages, and from single people to large families. What matters is that they have a desire to work with children and the right skills.”
An extra 7,350 foster families are needed in England, 850 in Scotland, 600 in Wales and 200 in Northern Ireland.
To find out more about becoming a foster carer people should contact their local fostering service. They can also visit www.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. For more details on 2013 recruitment targets and a regional breakdown for England, see http://www.fostering.net/about-fostering/recruitment-targets from 14 February.
2. The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in foster care, and exists to make life better for fostered children and the families that look after them.