Home Children, Young People & Families Barnardo’s urges people to consider becoming a foster carer this year 

Barnardo’s urges people to consider becoming a foster carer this year 

by Kirsty Kirsty

Nearly three quarters of adults in the UK are worried there aren’t enough foster carers to give children safe and loving homes (73%) – but only 7%* would consider fostering a child within the next 10 years, according to a new data. 

Exclusive polling by YouGov on behalf of children’s charity Barnardo’s, suggests that despite the number of children entering care continuing to rise in most areas of the UK*, there are not enough people willing to foster. 

Brenda Farrell, Barnardo’s UK Head of Business Fostering & Adoption, said: “The aging population of existing foster carers, coupled with fewer people choosing to become carers, is having a devastating impact. 

“With record numbers of children going into care in most areas of the UK, we urge anyone who could offer a safe and stable home to a child to find out more about fostering.  

“The vast majority of children coming into care go into foster care – 68% in England – so it is vitally important there are foster carers there to support them.” 

When asked why they wouldn’t consider becoming foster carers, 82% of those polled aged over 55 thought they were “too old”, whilst more than a third of those aged between 25 and 44 said they already have children or want children that are biologically connected to them and so didn’t consider it an option (34%).   

Brenda Farrell added: “We know many people across the country would love to foster – but they believe there are elements of their lives preventing them from doing so, such as their age, financial situation, or because they have biological children. 

“The reality is that many of these supposed barriers are myths that come from misconceptions of fostering. We spoke to Barnardo’s foster carers to bust some of those myths and found overwhelmingly positive results about their fostering experience.  

“Over 70% of Barnardo’s foster carers said they continue to foster because they want to offer children the opportunity to be part of their family and at Barnardo’s, we’ll consider all people over the age of 21 – the most important thing is your ability to provide a loving home.” 

The number of children in care in the UK now sits at a record high of more than 100,000, with over 80,000 children in care in England, whilst latest Ofsted figures show the number of approved mainstream fostering households in England alone has fallen by 7% since 2019. 

Jamie, aged 25, was born in Glasgow. He went into foster care with Barnardo’s and said from that moment, his life improved immeasurably.  

He said: “When I went to Barnardo’s, it was life-changing, and the people in Barnardo’s changed my life. I got matched with a foster place, but, at the start, I found it challenging because, for the first time, I started to get to know myself and who I was.”  

Jamie added: “Foster carers can change your life for the better and they maybe don’t realise to what extent. It’s the simple things in life that so many people maybe take for granted – that it’s nice to come into the house and it’s clean and tidy; that there’s your dinner every night; or just deciding to go to the cinema.”  

When polled, current Barnardo’s foster carers said they found it a “privilege” to make a positive difference to the lives of children and the vast majority said the best thing was being able to provide a safe, secure and stable environment to a child or watching a child grow, develop and reach their dreams. 

Brian, 69, and Jean, 62, from Thornton-Cleveleys, have welcomed nine children into their home over the past 12 years.  

Brian said: “You have a chance to change these children’s lives. There are lots of very important roles in society, but we have found that for us, there is nothing more rewarding than helping a child, giving them opportunities, and to help them to reach their full potential.”   

Jean added: “Age is just a number and I wish we’d started fostering earlier in life. I’m learning all the time from the children and although we’ve decided to do this long-term, if you’re considering being a foster carer, there are lots of other options like short-term foster care, short breaks and emergency fostering.  

“Anyone can foster a child. It’s OK to have questions and worries because there’s always someone at Barnardo’s who will listen to you. It doesn’t matter if you’re going through a divorce, if you’re a single parent, if you don’t own a home; with fostering there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. Brian and I are just normal people helping a few children find their way. I say if you’re still fit and healthy, what are you waiting for?” 

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