News In Focus
Popular myths producing fostering crisis, says charity
A UK-wide crisis shortage of foster carers is looming, and popular myths are preventing many people from coming forward to offer their services, according to a leading foster care provider.
Action for Children believes that 9,000 more carers will be needed this year than are currently available for the 91,000 children currently in care in the UK – itself a figure of which 96% of the population are unaware. With the predicted shortfall of carers as a result of people leaving the profession and the rise of children coming into the system, the charity is concerned that the situation will only get worse.
A survey of 2,000 people for the charity revealed that one in 10 people do not understand what is actually meant by fostering – the placing of children due to temporary problems within their own families, such as drug abuse or ill health – believing it to be similar to adoption.
The organisation was also surprised to find that:
- one in three people believe that those who live in rented accommodation cannot foster;
- one in three think you need to remain in full time employment, and are unaware that carers are given financial support;
- a similar number are under the assumption that gay people cannot foster;
- one in six (16%) believe that if you are a man you can’t be a foster carer;
- over half (54%) think that over-55s will not be approved as carers.
Darren Johnson, operational director at Action for Children, said: “With myths preventing people from coming forward, and the public not knowing the true extent of just how many children are currently in care, we are on course for a crisis. There’s an urgent need to tackle these misconceptions to move children into loving homes so they have the stability they need.
“With the UK’s population at an all-time high, sadly the number of children coming into care will continue to rise, and so will the need for carers.”
He added: “It is estimated that it takes four years from someone to think they would like to foster to actually picking up the phone and making their initial enquiry. So often the reason behind this delay is because of the misconceptions they have, and their fear of rejection. But this could be prevented by helping people to understand that in the majority of cases they can foster and that have a lot to offer a young person in care.”
In response to the findings, Action for Children has launched an online Fostering Myth Busting Academy on its website.