Children in care are being placed with foster families away from their local communities, and sibling groups are being separated, the UK’s leading fostering charity has warned.
During Foster Care Fortnight, The Fostering Network says that a lack of foster carers is resulting in brothers and sisters being placed in separate placements while other children are being placed far away from their local areas.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, says: “We urgently need more foster carers to come forward to care for children within their local communities. Foster carers are the bedrock of children’s social care; they are vital in our society and our young people rely on their care, dedication, passion and skills to support them when they need it most.”
There are more than 70,000 children living with almost 56,000 foster families in the UK, and the number of children coming into care keeps rising.
There are around 9,265 more fostering families needed across the UK to make sure every child who cannot live with their own family gets the care they need and are well supported within their community. There is a particular need for foster carers who can support sibling groups to ensure that children can be cared for together and don’t lose vital connections to their family.
Walt has been a single foster carer for over five years and looks after teenagers. He had considered fostering for a long time but was worried that he would struggle to get approved as a single man who is part of the LGBTQ+ community and at the time lived in rented accommodation.
“I had the space to foster but was worried that my background would not allow me to do so. I am so glad I realised that that is not the case. If you have the right skills, the space and the passion to change a young person’s life, I recommend looking into it. The most valuable lessons I have learnt since becoming a foster carer is to be true to yourself and always be authentic. It is that authenticity that the young person connects with and helps them to see that who they are is good enough,” said Walt.
“Becoming a foster carer is one of the biggest decisions I have ever made, but it was also one of the best ones. While I'm in this to make a difference to the child, it is also a learning opportunity for myself. The children I look after are my teachers. I learn from them as much as I can give them,” he added.
As part of Foster Care Fortnight, The Fostering Network is using its annual awareness raising campaign to call for more people to come forward to foster to try to ensure that children in need of a foster home can be cared for locally.
Kevin Williams said: “If you have ever considered fostering, now is the time to get in touch with your local fostering service and find out more. The fostering community is open to people from all walks of life and backgrounds: you can become a foster carer no matter your age, gender, relationship status or sexual orientation.
“Community can be built around a variety of aspects of people’s lives, and it is important that different identities are represented within the fostering community,” he concluded.
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