Call for more foster carers to improve stability as Foster Care Fortnight begins
Fostered siblings are being split and children being moved too many times, says Fostering Network
Children are being moved too many times between foster families because of the need for more foster carers across the UK, the Fostering Network is warning as this year's Foster Care Fortnight (13-26 May) begins.
In a new survey of 1,439 foster families, the charity found that in the last two years three in five foster carers (61 per cent) have cared for children who have previously had two or more moves between homes. Two in five (43 per cent) have looked after at least one child who has been moved four or more times, while one in ten (11 per cent) have cared for children who have had ten or more moves before coming to live with them.
The shortage of foster carers means that local authorities are struggling to find the best possible home for them. As a result, children are being moved too far away from their families, are being unnecessarily split up from brothers and sisters and are being forced to move school. Others live with a foster carer who has space but may not have the experience and skills to meet their specific needs. This can put such a strain on relationships that they break down, resulting in these multiple, damaging moves.
The survey also found that in the last two years:
- One in three (34 per cent) foster carers have looked after children whose brothers and sisters were placed elsewhere because the fostering service couldn't find a place to keep them all together.
- Almost one in three (28 per cent) of foster carers have felt under pressure to take children (mainly teenagers) who they felt they were not trained or supported to look after.
- One in ten foster carers (12 per cent) have felt under pressure to take in another child (mainly teenagers) when they felt they had no more capacity.
- Two in five foster carers (39 per cent) have looked after children temporarily because the fostering service couldn't find a suitable long-term home.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said:
"Children who come into care have usually had traumatic experiences in their lives and have often suffered abuse or neglect. They need a stable and loving home to help them turn their lives around.
"Fostering can offer them this, and there are tens of thousands of fantastic foster families right across the UK. But the challenge for fostering services is to find the right foster carers with the right skills in the right place for each child. We need a wider pool of foster families to ensure that this happens for all children, and that's why we're urging people to consider fostering this Foster Care Fortnight."
The Fostering Network estimates that a further 9,000 foster families are needed across the UK in the next 12 months alone, with a particular need for foster carers for teenagers, sibling groups and disabled children. Anyone wanting to find out more about fostering can visit www.couldyoufoster.org.uk or contact their local fostering service.