The impact of the coronavirus pandemic was felt by everyone around the world and none more so than by children and young people in the foster care system.
The number of children entering the UK care system each year is rising, and the pandemic saw an eye-watering increase in the number of children needing loving foster homes, without enough people coming forward to offer them. We need thousands of new foster families to meet this demand, but, sadly, there just aren’t enough.
Now is the time to open your heart and home and become a foster parent to some of the UK’s most vulnerable children.
Foster care stats
Children looked after (CLA)
Up 2% on 2021
CLA who were UASC
Up 34% on 2021
(unaccompanied asylum-seeking children)
Up 9% on 2021
The stats about foster care show that over 70,000 children live with almost 56,000 foster families across the UK each day. This is nearly 70% of the 82,170 children in care away from home on any one day in the UK.
As it stands, there are about 43,905 foster families in England, which means there is an active need for thousands more foster families, especially as around 30,000 more children come into care over the course of 12 months, with similar numbers leaving the care system to either return home, move in with a family member, live with a new adoptive family, or move onto adult life, becoming a care leaver.
These stats show us that there is a national foster care crisis and a desperate need for more people to come forward and apply to be foster carers.
Foster care during the pandemic
The scary fact is, the number of vulnerable children needing foster care rose by 44% during the pandemic, while the number of people choosing to become foster parents decreased by nearly half compared to where the figures were the previous year. The pandemic put major pressure on the children’s social care sector and made existing challenges even harder, both for the children and the people working in the sector.
Due to the pandemic and the stress of lockdown, pressure increased on vulnerable families. The loss of jobs, financial struggles, poor mental health, and the pressure of homeschooling all lead to an increase in families breaking down.
Then there are the children already in a difficult situation. Those who might have suffered from domestic or sexual abuse, all of which might have worsened due to the stressful nature of lockdowns. The pandemic hit vulnerable families the hardest, which has created a state of emergency, as more children than ever are in need of a caring foster home, while fewer people are coming forward to provide them.
And while there were still foster parents coming forward, those who understood the importance of empathy, and how they could help make a difference in a child’s life, the change of circumstances experienced by many because of the pandemic, resulted in a huge drop in enquiries from people interested in fostering.
This means there are more children than ever who desperately need your love and innate foster care skills to give them a safe and secure home.
We need your help
Even with the uncertainties the pandemic brought, we still had incredible people applying to be foster parents. Amazing people from all walks of life saw the need for safe and loving homes, and we want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for making such a big difference.
Foster parents are heroes, and at a time during so much fear and uncertainty, they opened their hearts and homes and worked with us to put children and young people into secure and caring environments. Throughout the increased challenges, they, along with us, have continued to care for children, protect them from harm, and support their families.
But now we need your help. Because, even though the pandemic is over, there are still far too many children from all backgrounds who need us. And with the current economic situation and the cost of living, we are likely to see another increase in children coming into the fostering system.
There is still a shortage of foster parents and so many looked-after children who need a loving and empathetic home. If you think you have the transferable skills to become a foster parent, then we would love to hear from you.
You might be concerned if you can continue to work and foster at the same time, or you might be worried that you don’t have the skills to make you a great foster parent. All of these concerns can be put aside. Many of the skills needed to be a great foster parent can be acquired through so many different jobs, as well as your natural abilities, such as compassion, empathy, patience, understanding, and sympathy. And even though fostering is considered a career, there are still circumstances where you could continue working at the same time.
Are you ready to become a foster carer?
At FCA, you will be supported every step of the way, with comprehensive training and a dedicated support team who are on hand 24/7. So you will never be alone. You’ll also receive amazing rewards and benefits, as well as generous fostering allowances.
If you are over 21, have a spare room, have the legal right to work in the UK, and are committed to making a positive difference in a child’s life, then we would love to hear from you. Get in touch and a friendly member of the FCA team will be happy to chat through any questions you might have.