Fostering Fortnight Fostering can be fantastic – but we’re still short of foster parents

Fostering can be fantastic – but we’re still short of foster parents

In fact the vast majority of children in public care live with foster carers on a temporary basis until they can return to their own families. Fostering works to keep families together wherever possible.

There are many different types of fostering. These include: emergency fostering, which is usually up to three days as the result of a crisis; short term fostering, which can be anything from an overnight stay to three months; long term fostering, which allows a child who for some reason cannot live with their family to grow up in a safe environment while retaining their family links; and short break care, whereby carers regularly have children to stay for a short time so that families with disabled children can have a break, or to help a full-time foster carer take a holiday.

The Need for Foster Families

Of course, the success of any type of fostering hinges on one principal factor – the existence of a wide group of adults willing and able to take in and look after someone else’s child. That is, foster carers.

There are an estimated 37,000 foster families in the UK. Some carers choose to specialise in one area of fostering, but others may opt to take a mixture of children with very different needs.

These carers come from a wide range of backgrounds. Anyone can apply to be a foster carer as long as they have what it takes to care for children separated from their own families. There are no age limits, up or down, and single people can foster as well as married or cohabiting couples. Some carers have their own children, others do not. People of all ethnic origins are needed – children benefit from living with families who share their own culture, language, religion and food.

And there is an urgent need for almost 8,000 more foster carers in the UK. The children coming into foster care are all individuals. In order to provide them with the highest standard of care, fostered children should be able to live with a carer carefully chosen to meet their specific individual needs. The more people approved as carers, the more likely it is we can find a good match.

That’s why national charity the Fostering Network is again co-ordinating the annual recruitment campaign Foster Care Fortnight. From 12-25 May, local authorities around the UK will hold events and use publicity to raise the profile of fostering and to highlight the urgent need for more foster carers.

So why be a foster carer?

People decide to foster for a huge variety of reasons, and each carer brings their own skills and abilities into foster care. What they all have in common is the desire and ability to look after children separated from their families.

Foster carers the world over speak of hard work, but also of the joy of seeing a child in their care develop and flourish. Simon, a foster carer since 1995, sums it up: “Fostering is 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and something you are living, not just doing. You see children at their lowest ebb, but then to take them into your home and see the progress they make over time is a fantastic feeling.”

To find out more about fostering or Foster Care Fortnight, contact the Fostering Network on 020 7620 6400 or [email protected] , or see

The Fostering Network is the UK’s leading charity for all those involved in foster care, and aims to ensure the highest standards of care for fostered children. The organisation provides training, advice and publications, while its professional consultancy, lobbying and campaigning help to inform the fostering debate at national and local level.

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