The Fostering Network says that 8,600 new foster families will be needed across the UK in 2014 to provide secure homes to foster children. This is down slightly from the 9,000 needed in 2013. The Network puts the reduction down to the fact that there will be slightly fewer children assessed for foster care than before.
However, despite the decrease, there are still approximately 63,000 foster children living with over 52,500 foster families across the UK. Generally more foster families are required in order to compensate for the fact that there are around 4,000 unanticipated endings to fostering placements each year.
The research also revealed that there is higher demand for foster carers to provide homes for teenagers, children with disabilities and siblings. Around 38,000 of the young people in care in England are aged 10 and over 2,000 children with disabilities are in care because their needs could not be supported at home.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, is urging potential foster families to make their interest known: ‘Fostering services last year found over 7,200 new foster families in England alone, but recruitment remains an ongoing challenge. Fostering services across the UK need to attract a diverse range of foster carers who can meet the needs of children in care and who can offer as much choice as possible so that they can find the right home for each child, first time.
‘We urgently need people who believe that they have the right skills and qualities to foster to come forward and make a long lasting positive difference to the life of a child. In particular, foster carers are needed to provide homes for teenagers and children with disabilities, and to help sibling groups stay together.'