LGBT Foster Carers

If you are male or female, straight, gay, bisexual or transgender, we understand that it is a person’s commitment and dedication that matters most. And not your gender, sexual orientation or indeed religion or ethnicity. LGBT foster carers are drawn from all the communities that go to make up our diverse and vibrant nation.

Breaking down barriers

A third of LGBT people think that they will face barriers to becoming a foster carer. At Rainbow, we positively encourage LGBT people to foster - we have some amazing foster carers drawn from this community. And there are some very important reasons why the contribution they can make is so valuable.

As far back as 2001 a survey was conducted that showed “76 per cent of social workers thought LGBT people’s openness to difference and ability to empathise with fostered children was a significant strength.” This was publicized by the leading foster care charity, The Fostering Network - so any LGBT

person interested in fostering should understand their potential contribution will be highly valued.

At Rainbow, we appreciate that LGBT people may well have experienced issues around acceptance. This can enable them to empathise strongly with children and young people who may feel they too have never found acceptance. This means that LGBT folk have a particularly unique contribution to offer.

Why the LGBT community is a precious resource

It is worth considering that if just 1% of LGBT people were to adopt or foster, there would no longer be any children or young people waiting for a new home. At Rainbow - because there is a serious shortage of foster families across the UK - we want to attract LGBT people into fostering. It’s a fact that record numbers of potential LGBT adopters and foster carers are now being reached - which is great for the future. Available figures indicate that same-sex couples are responsible for 1 in 12 adoptions. And most encouragingly, other statistics reveal that this is a rising trend which also includes fostering.

The Department of Education highlighted the fact that in England – between April 2014 – March 2015, 8.44% of adoptions were accounted for by same-sex couples. This figure was up from just 3.27% in 2011 – clearly a significant rise. In England there were 450 adoptions by same-sex couples, in Scotland there were 17 and in Wales there were 30. And the numbers continue

to rise. This demonstrates that LGBT people are rightly sensing the scale, importance and value of the contribution they can make to society by fostering. In response to this trend, the chief executive of the adoption charity, New Family Social, Tor Doherty told Pink News:

“it’s key in every adoption case that the needs of the child are paramount throughout” and “It’s fantastic that adoption agencies increasingly recognise the skills that LGBT can bring as parents to meet those children’s needs.”

Food for thought

The latest statistics show that just over 65,000 children are living with around 55,000 foster families across the United Kingdom each day. In England there is a need to recruit an additional 6,800 foster families over the next twelve months; in Northern Ireland the number is 200; in Wales and Scotland the figure is 550. This means there is always a pressing need to recruit more foster carers which is why every year support the LGBT Adoption and Fostering week. This is a key event in the fostering calendar which first started in 2012.

It is organised by New Family Social, the UK support group for LGBT adopters and foster carers. Every spring, organisations right across the country get together to put on events specifically for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender prospective parents. Information is made widely available concentrating on what fostering and adoption involves.

One reason

why LGBT carers can make such an important contribution to fostering - according to Tor Doherty - is they are “very often far more willing to consider children who are harder to place – such as teenagers or those presenting with a range special needs, or those who are members of sibling groups.” There are reasons as to why this is the case: studies produced by the Rees Centre (Research in Fostering and Education – University of Oxford Department of Education), reveal social workers reporting that foster carers can display “particular strengths in relation to providing foster care. These included ‘psychological stability, sensitivity, educational accomplishments, financial security, strong support systems – as well as resourcefulness.”

When social workers were called upon to contribute to another study, they expressed the opinion that because LGBT often had personal experience of being marginalized and discriminated against, they could readily identify with those who had similar experiences. This also tended to give LGBT people a greater degree of resilience. And this is a character trait which is so very useful in contending with the many and varied challenges in fostering.

If you are a member of the LGBT community and are interested in finding out how to go about becoming a foster carer, please submit your contact details on our website. You can also call us for information and request an information pack - we’d be delighted to hear from you.