Back in May of 2017, the leading foster care charity, The Fostering Network drew attention to the need for more foster carers to provide homes for teenagers and sibling groups. This was highlighted as part of the annual ‘Foster Care Fortnight’. The new figures for this year, were then calculated by the charity: they showed that 7,180 families were needed right across the United Kingdom – 5,900 in England, 640 in Scotland, 440 in Wales, and 200 in Northern Ireland. In addition, The Foster Care Network identified that 86% of foster care services have a specific need for foster cares for sibling groups and 97% of foster care services had a specific need for foster carers for teenagers.
The need for more parent and child carers was also found in the survey – with 57% of fostering service providers highlighting the need in this area. This is where carers work to support young mothers or fathers and their babies when they are experiencing difficulties. Carers assist the parents with developing their parental skills. The goal is to try and keep the parent and child together over the long term.
In the UK, at the time of the survey, 60% of ‘looked after’ children were teenagers: in England alone, it was found that 455 sibling groups had been separated , despite their having been assessed to stay together in placement.
The child executive of The Fostering Network, Kevin Williams, stated –
“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.”
The view of the charity is simple: finding more carers will mean that a fostering service will be able to more closely match the needs of a foster child with the skills of a foster carer. This is an important goal for when placements break down, the results can be damaging for both the foster child and its foster carers. Finding the right home for the right child at the first attempt is clearly the ideal – a bigger pool of foster carers makes this more likely.
Since ‘Foster Care Fortnight’, more up to date figures have become available: the numbers, as released by the Department for Education now show that for the year ending 31 March 2017, the numbers of ‘looked after’ children rose by 3.2 per cent – this took place in the space of 12 months; 72,670 children were in care in the 12 months to the end of March 2017 – this compared with 70,440 the year before and then 69,480 in 2015. What is significant is that the 3.2 per cent increase is now the largest in five years – since the figure jumped from 65,510 in 2011 to 67,070 in 2012, a rise of 4.1 per cent. Worryingly, the proportion of children now in care has risen to the highest level on record. Currently, 62 out of every 10,000 children are in care: the figure had remained set at 60 since 2013; the lowest the figure has been in recently was in 2008 – at that point in time, 54 out of every 10,000 children were in care.
Could you qualify for a ‘Rewards’ bonus?
At Rainbow we are happy to pay a bonus of £500 if you are fostering and are in a position to refer a friend/relative to become a carer. Once their first placement has been made, following your referral, you will receive the bonus payment. If, alternatively, you are already an approved carer (with a long term foster placement), and considering transferring, we can make the move an easy process. And, when join Rainbow Fostering, you may also be eligible for a special bonus.
Could you be a carer in 2018?
Whatever your religious faith, particular background or personal situation, we would be delighted to speak with you if you are interested in becoming a carer. Talk to us about any aspect of care that you want to know more about. It can be on any topic such as – how long does it take from initial application to become a carer? how much in fees/allowances do private foster care agencies pay their carers? Can I still care for a child or young person if I am gay? What additional benefits, if any, can be claimed as a carer?
An urgent fostering need
We welcome applications from people interested in all types of fostering. We especially need carers interested in looking after teenagers and sibling groups. We provide special training to enable carers to do specialise. The support we provide is of the highest standard – it is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
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