There is an urgent need for foster carers to care for teenagers and sibling groups, the Fostering Network has warned.
The charity states that 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. 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.
The charity also found that:
- 97 per cent of fostering services have a particular need for foster carers for teenagers;
- 86 per cent of fostering services have a particular need for foster carers for sibling groups.
In England alone, there are 455 groups of siblings who have been separated despite being assessed to live together, says the charity.
The survey also shows a growing need for more parent and child foster carers, where foster carers help and support young parents who are struggling with parenting their babies and children. The foster carer woks with the parent and their child to develop their parenting ability in a bid to keep families together in the long term. The charity found 57 per cent of fostering services have a need in this area.
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,” he added.