Foster care is, sadly, very much a numbers game. And, dealing with the numbers is getting ever more challenging for all those involved with fostering provision. At the current moment in time there are over 65,000 children and young people living with roughly 55,000 foster care families. The leading charity, The Fostering Network, monitors the situation in relation to numbers coming into foster care along with the number of foster care families needed.
The charity is currently estimating that an additional 8,100 new foster families will be needed in 2019. This is not just about matching numbers: having an extensive pool of foster carers is vital in ensuring that there is a choice. This means that children have a much greater chance of being placed in a family that is right for them.
The aim of foster care is to ensure that vulnerable young people can be offered a secure home. It needs to be a safe and nurturing family environment in which they can settle. And, if judged to be in the interests of the child, a foster carer can facilitate contact with their birth family.
There is a remorseless fact that is creating a crisis foster care provision. It is that approximately 13% of foster carers are retiring annually. The effect of this is the loss of experienced foster carers just at a time when that experience is most sorely needed. This is because 65% of children now entering the care system are suffering trauma – the direct consequence of abuse and/or neglect. They have varying and complex needs. Inexperienced foster carers cannot be blamed for failing to support such challenging placements. What is so disturbing is the effect on children – already extremely vulnerable – when their placements regularly break down.
Against this background, The Fostering Network has intimated that just attracting 8,100 foster carers to meet this gap is not of itself the answer. This is because their are specific groups that are hard to place. Placement are needed for teenagers, sibling groups and parent-child categories.
It also has to be remembered that the supply of foster cares across the country is not uniform. This can have the unfortunate effect of children and young people being sent miles from their home areas. This is especially sad when siblings are involved and maybe separated by long distances.
Fostering service providers have every year to find and train new foster carers. Efforts are being made to address the shortfall of carers. Some mention of recruitment was made in the foster care stocktake but it fell well short of arguing for a publicly funded awareness campaign. This is what is needed to attract more people into fostering. It is surprising to say the least that the government has pro-actively gone about doing this. the signs of a mounting crisis in foster carer provision have been evident for a considerable period.
Foster a proper image of what carers are involved in doing.
It could be argued that the foster carer stocktake would have contributed far more, if it had followed a public awareness campaign about fostering. Whenever the public is approached for their thoughts about fostering, it is all too obvious the ideas they have are vague and hopelessly outdated. The stereotype of the self-sacrificing well meaning foster carer simply does not connect to the reality of their job of fostering. It rather looks as if the government avoided such a campaign as to it would have per force have needed to depart radically from the rose-tinted mythologising image most have of foster carers. More significantly, to be credible, it would have had to deal head- on with themes that the government would have found very comfortable. Mental health provision is just one such issue which is politically charged: many foster children can find it extremely difficult to access mental health service support services – especially if they have experienced the discontinuity of placement breakdowns. And there are plenty of other contentious issues relating to foster care that the government seems reluctant to engage with. But this seems to be changing. It is depressing, and revealing, that this is happening because it has simply not been possible to turn the tide of negative headlines relating to child related news stories.
Foster care numbers.
In the UK, 8,100 additional foster families are needed and this breaks down as follows:
The above figures can be broken down further in England by region as follows:
An invitation to join Team Rainbow and make the world of difference to some very vulnerable children.
At Rainbow we are first and foremost a community. Everyone is here to support the most important aim of the agency. This is to improve the lives of children and young people who have been disadvantaged early on in their lives. We have foster carers who can inspire and motivate children to look at their lives afresh and see that they have a right to achieve. When a foster carer is able to do this, it gives them an incredible feeling of satisfaction. Rainbow and its foster carers have enabled our children to make tremendous strides forward. This happens because we provide the best for support to our foster carers as this means they can provide the best support to the children they are fostering.
If you would like to find out more about being a part of what makes such a difference for ‘looked after’ children, pick up the phone and have a chat with us: 020 8427 3355 or our National Line – 0330 311 2845. We will explain the process of becoming a foster carer – from your initial application to us to the vetting and checking of references which form a necessary part of the process of becoming an ‘Approved’ foster carer. Remember, calling us will not result in any obligation – we’d just love to have a chat!
What makes Rainbow different?
All our placements are carefully planned. Our matching process is conducted by highly experienced professionals whose goal is to ensure the stability of the placements we make.
Many of our foster carers have been with us for many years – quite a few longer than ten years and some even more. We think this tells its own story. All our foster carers are offered regular high-quality training so that they can build their professional fostering careers with us.
Foster care: Rainbow update.
As one of the leading IFAs in the UK, we now have offices in Birmingham and Manchester. If you live in either of these areas and are keen to find out more about becoming a foster carer, use either of the numbers above to find out more.
Our Rainbow community welcomes all who want to make a special difference to the lives and prospects of children and young people. We have foster carers who are single/divorced/married. Then we also have foster couples who co-habit – with or without children. Rainbow has also trained many same-sex couples from the LGBT+ community to foster. Find out more about foster care at
And another interesting topic to browse http://rainbowfostering.co.uk/foster-physical-fitness/