Leading fostering charity The Fostering Network
is calling for more under 35s to consider becoming foster carers.
The call comes during the second week of Foster Care Fortnight
, as part of the charity’s campaign to help recruit 7,000 new foster families
across the UK in the coming year.
Less than 5 per cent of foster carers are under 35, despite this age group making up about 20 per cent of the UK’s population.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network, said:
‘Older foster carers bring life experience and skills from other work to fostering, and do an amazing job in providing homes for thousands of fostered children. However, given the need for over 7,000 more foster families in 2017, it’s vital that we also reach out to more people under 35 who are heavily under-represented among foster carers.
What is important is not age, but rather the skills and qualities to look after fostered children, and we believe there are many people in this younger age bracket who would make fantastic foster carers but may think they’re too young. Younger foster carers will also be in a great position to offer homes to the many children who need to live with a foster family for the long term, often until the age of 21.'
Joelene Hodgson-McKail began fostering at 29 and believes being younger has been beneficial to the care she and her wife Yvonne provide. She says:
‘I thought my age would be a big concern at first and we had lots of discussions with social workers about the age of the children we could care for. However, we have found that our youth has worked really well, particularly with teenagers as we’ve been able to relate well to them. Even the basic stuff like knowledge of social media and sharing interests in music for example has helped us to build and establish bonds.
When we enquired about foster care there were never really any concerns about age. Prior to fostering, I worked for the Scottish prison service in a position that held a great deal of responsibility and maturity, and I had experience looking after nieces and nephews whose ages range from three to 21. During the assessment process the focus was very much on my experience with children and not the lack of “life experience”.’At the other end of the age scale, those in their sixties and beyond can also provide loving, stable environment for a child.