Foster Care Fortnight is currently running and has been going since May 10 to continue until May 23. However, a new report has revealed that less than two per cent of people in Yorkshire are aware of how many children are referred to social services; most think it is a much lower number than reality.
Five Rivers Child Care is a social enterprise and an independent fostering organization, which commissioned the report. They want to battle the distinct lack of awareness around the number of children entering the care system. Intentions to raise awareness will work hand in hand with the annual campaign of Foster Care Fortnight.
A call for 8,500 foster carers
Currently, 57,380 children are living with around 44,500 foster families. However, more than 8,500 foster carers are still desperately needed nationwide to meet the demand.
Over the last 11 years, the number of children and young people has steadily risen but has significantly increased since the COVID-19 pandemic.
There is currently a significant pressure on fostering services. Five Rivers Child Care aims to raise awareness across Foster Care Fortnight week and beyond.
“We are in desperate need for more foster families in Kirklees.”
Martin Leitch, head of fostering operations at Five Rivers Child Care, which operates in Kirklees, 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 in Kirklees 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.”
Misconceptions about foster care
Five Rivers Child Care also highlighted lots of misconceptions in their report. The report found that more than half of people living in Yorkshire aren’t aware those living in rented accommodation can foster. The lack of awareness could be a considerable barrier for foster care recruitment.
People from all walks of life can be considered to become a foster carer. You need to be over 21 years of age, have the essential qualities needed to look after children in care and have a spare bedroom for each foster child.
You can be single, co-habiting couples, same-sex couples, and people living in rented accommodation.