Barnardo’s has made an urgent appeal for more foster carers following a surge in referrals to the charity’s fostering services over the past year.
The number of children referred to the charity to be placed with a foster carer between August 2020 and July 2021 was 19,144. This is a rise of 36 per cent compared with the previous 12-month period, when the figure was 14,130.
Barnardo’s says the surge is likely to reflect the intense strain families have been under as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, with studies showing a rise in mental health problems, child poverty and relationship pressures over the past year.
Although the charity has received higher numbers of referrals for foster care in the past, the large rise in the last 12 months has made it harder to find foster carers that are local to a child and who can accept sibling groups.
Referrals of sibling groups rose 31 per cent over the year, and the charity wants to recruit more foster carers who can care for such children. It also wants to encourage applications and enquiries from ethnic minority communities and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
In England, the rise in the total number of children referred to Barnardo’s fostering services was 40 per cent, in Wales it was five per cent and in Northern Ireland it was 20 per cent. In Scotland, there was a decrease of 17 per cent.
The appeal has been made for the launch of the charity’s fostering awareness month.
A YouGov survey carried out for Barnardo’s shows that 14 per cent of adults in Great Britain would consider fostering a child aged 18 or under in the next five years. However, just six per cent said they would be willing to foster siblings.
Lynn Perry MBE, interim co-chief executive of Barnardo’s, said: “The pandemic and lockdown measures have piled pressure onto struggling families with job losses, deepening poverty and worsening mental health, contributing to family breakdown. Our survey shows that many people would consider fostering and we urge people to come forward to find out more about what being a foster carer involves – there’s no obligation.
“You could give a home to a vulnerable child when they need it most. Your love and support can allow brothers and sisters to stay together and make a huge difference to their life – and to yours. We welcome passionate individuals from all walks of life. If you are over 21, have a spare room, are a UK resident and have the time and commitment to support a child – you could be the special person they need.”
Earlier this year, Foster Care Fortnight highlighted the work that foster carers had done to support children during the pandemic.
Source: Children & Young People NowCategories: News