Foster carers are needed across Derbyshire
A fostering organisation is encouraging more people to think about offering safe and loving homes to vulnerable children and young people – as new figures suggest people in the East Midlands are unaware of the true number of youngsters referred to social services.
A report commissioned by Five Rivers Child Care found less than one per cent of people surveyed in the East Midlands had an accurate grasp on the true number of children being referred to social services each week.
Across England today, there are 57,380 children living with around 44,500 foster families – but more than 8,500 foster carers are still desperately needed nationwide to meet demand and help support children and young adults in need.
The number of looked-after children and young people has risen steadily over the last 11 years and this has increased significantly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
This has put immense pressure on the fostering services, something Five Rivers Child Care – which operates across Derbyshire – is keen to highlight this Foster Care Fortnight, which runs until May 23.
Martin Leitch, head of fostering operations at Five Rivers Child Care, said: “Children being taken into care is a sensitive and complex issue and something that people, generally, don’t want to think about.
“On average, over 1,000 children are referred to social services each week in England alone.
“Research has revealed that there has been a dramatic increase in referrals to social services since the start of the pandemic and we are certain that it will continue to rise as it has done over the last several years.
“Today there is a national shortage of more than 8,500 foster carers.
“This makes finding safe places for children to live extremely challenging.
“With the added post pandemic pressures, we are extremely concerned about whether there will be enough safe homes for vulnerable children in the greatest need.
“We are in desperate need of more foster families across Derbyshire to care for children either on a temporary or permanent basis.
“If you’re a kind, compassionate person interested in fostering, do something different this year and get in touch to find out more.
“Fostering comes in many forms and can be tailored towards the needs and lifestyle of foster parent, or parents, and those in their care.
“Foster carers can work flexibly as respite or short-term foster carers, or they can have foster children and young people living with them long-term, meaning they would remain in care until they feel ready to live independently.”
There are lots of misconceptions around who can become a foster carer.
Five Rivers Child Care’s report highlighted that more than half of people living in the East Midlands aren’t aware those living in rented accommodation can foster – a serious misconception that could be hindering foster carer recruitment across Derbyshire.
However, people from all walks of life can be considered to become foster carers as long as they are over 21 years of age and have the key qualities needed to look after children in care.
For more information on foster care, visit www.five-rivers.org.