The issue of fostering is rising up the news agenda as the need to find more foster carers becomes pressing. We like, occasionally, to comment on particular news stories that we post. It’s always good to receive your comments and opinion. So keep them coming in!
And most recently…
we are now in the second week of the Fostering Network’s annual campaign to find more foster parents. An interesting, and significant development has been the charity’s direct call for more people under the age of thirty five to consider becoming foster carers. Kevin Williams, who is the chief executive of The Fostering Network went on the record stating:
“Our older foster carers bring life experience and skills from other work to fostering, and do an amazing job in providing homes for thousands of fostered children. However, given the need for over 7,000 more foster families in 2017, it’s vital that we also reach out to more people under 35 who are heavily under-represented among foster carers. What is important is not age, but rather the skills and qualities to look after fostered children, and we believe there are many people in this younger age bracket who would make fantastic foster carers but may think they’re too young. Younger foster carers will also be in a great position to offer homes to the many children who need to live with a foster family for the long term, often until the age of 21.”
There are, of course, considerable plus points to getting younger foster carers. They may not have acquired the same level of ‘life’ experience as people in their fifties, but they can offer the considerable and culturally relevant experiences older people cannot. Most obviously, they have youth on their side – so they are likely to be fitter, and if you foster a child energy is certainly required.
Youngerare also going to have knowledge of, and probably direct experience of technology and social media. This can facilitate the process of establishing relationships and creating bonds. And this is key to achieving the Holy Grail of placement stability.
Worryingly, less than five per cent of carers are under 35 – even though this group make up around twenty percent of the population in the UK. This means that a very big job is required to boost this percentage. And this will turn on changing the perceptions of people in this group; not only of themselves but of fostering generally. Because the percentage is so low, it is reasonable to presume that fostering per se, is not on the radar of people in this age group. The government should embark upon a public education campaign to make the under 35’s realise that to become a foster carer is a serious option. What will be interesting is to consider why such people do not see fostering children is a choice for them. These answers will be significant since they are likely to provide important clues to the disaffection expressed by a growing number of older foster carers. Perhaps the most significant one will be that fostering is not seen as a ‘profession’. Attracting younger people will almost certainly make it necessary to boost the status of the foster carer in society. Doing this could be of considerable value in disabusing a large number of older, experienced foster carers that there is a question mark over their status. And this might stem the flow of carers retiring or simply giving up – as well as attracting younger people to fostering. With over 7,000 more foster families needed in England in 2017 we need every last carer and every new applicant.
And continuing on…
we are now in the second and final week of the annual Foster Care Fortnight. Our own ‘support campaign’ is proving to be successful in promoting awareness of the need for more foster carers. A big ‘thank you’ is due all our new Twitter followers who have shown such sterling support.
What needs to be considered before becoming a carer.
Lots of people think they might be able to foster. We always stress that it is a life changing experience and will need certain skills and abilities. It also takes a certain type of person to become a carer. We provide the best in guidance, training and support, but it’s worth giving some thought to the following points before making that call.
Are you able to love a looked after child as you would your own?
Do you have the time as well as the resources to a challenging child?
Are you capable of being a team player?
Do you have the emotional resilience to look after a child?
Do you have a sense of humour?
Are you good at record keeping?
For plenty more information about what a carer needs to know: visit http://bit.ly/2pc8SEc