Shortfall of foster carers hits crisis point

Release Date: 18/01/2010
Eight out of ten people (80%) have never considered fostering according to a poll commissioned by children's charity Barnardo's.

With a national shortage of 10,000 foster carers and applications for children to be taken into care on the rise since the death of baby Peter, the UK’s largest children’s charity is calling for the Government to urgently invest in a recruitment drive for foster carers.

Speaking on the first day of Barnardo’s Fostering and Adoption Week 2010 (18 – 24 January), chief executive Martin Narey said:

Persistent, chronic child neglect and maltreatment is not uncommon in the UK and the rise in the number of care applications since the death of baby Peter shows an encouraging change of awareness. We must continue to support social workers to intervene early when they feel a child is at risk. The increase in referrals is resulting in an urgent call on expenditure, and the Government must find the funds.

The huge shortfall of foster carers amounts to a crisis as it is vital that stable and secure foster placements are available. The Government needs to urgently invest in a hard-hitting national recruitment drive for foster carers, it is past overdue.

The YouGov poll also highlighted that the 18% of people polled who had considered fostering, had not fostered children. Respondents cited the two options below as those that would most encourage them to foster:

* Control over what type of children would be matched with them (10%)
* The option to offer short spells of foster care (7%)

Jonathan Ewen, Director of fostering and adoption, Barnardo’s responded:

Barnardo’s works very closely with its carers to identify the type of child best suited to them and their families and short break carers are also in high demand. Short break care entails opening up your home for as little as a few weekends a year.

Yes fostering can be challenging, the same as any job, but the rewards are immeasurable – you are helping to turn children’s lives around. I want to urge people to contact Barnardo’s and find out more about fostering.

Barnardo’s foster carer Sue Haynes said:

When my own children were grown up I missed them, I saw a Barnardo’s advert and thought, ‘I can do this’. Foster care is a very positive experience, yes they have got their genes from other parents, but you have all the fun of parenting and seeing those kids grow up and it’s you who is helping to mould and shape them.

Lauren, Sue Hayne’s foster daughter:

We just clicked instantly. I’ve got the family I’ve always wanted. It’s definitely the best thing that could have happened. I’m at college and I am training to be a social worker. Once I have my own career and my own children I will go into fostering myself. I want to make somebody feel how she has made me feel these last seven years.

To find out more about fostering, visit www.barnardos.org.uk/fosteringandadoption or call 0800 0277 280.

Notes to editors

* The significant rise in the number of care applications was reported by Cafcass in October 2009 as a 47% year on year rise.
* There is a shortage of just over 10,000 foster families in the UK as reported by The Fostering Network's latest survey on the number of foster families needed in the UK.
* All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2006 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 21-23 December 2009. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).

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