Over the course of a year, up to 30,000 children can enter the care system in the UK. These children are looking for an adult to support, love and care for them, offering them a stable home life so that they have all the opportunities to thrive and grow, like every other child.
There aren’t enough foster carers to keep up with demand. With more children entering the care system, more foster care placements are needed. As well as more placements, there is a need for foster carers from diverse backgrounds too.
There is a need for more foster carers across the board, more people willing to open their homes and lives to children,and to become skilled in offering care to children who can find it difficult to adapt and live away from their families.
Why do children enter foster care?
Children can be taken into care for a number of reasons. Quite often children are known to social services for many years before any action is taken. It is always a question of balance of helping the family to cope or deal with issues but also keeping a child or children safe.
In a nutshell, children are ‘taken into care’ because a family is in crisis. There are many reasons why this may be. These are just a few examples;
- Parental illness – children can be placed with foster carers for short or long-term placements, for example when a parent is unwell or injured and unable to care for their children. It usually means there aren’t any other family members who can offer the care that the children need.
- Addiction – when a parent has addiction issues, such as to drugs or alcohol, it makes life chaotic. As a result, they may not prioritise their children’s needs, often leading to neglect.
- Abuse – physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse are also reasons why children are removed from the care of their parents. Depending on the situation, some children are placed in foster care some distance from their families in order to protect them further.
Taking a child into care is not a decision taken lightly. A lot of effort and support will often go into helping a family to try and stay together. But when these efforts don’t come to fruition, the child’s needs must always be the focus.
There are cases where foster care is needed for a child because their own specific needs are not being met.
- Significant behavioural issues – there are many things that impact on how a child behaves. Some foster carers possess specific and specialised skills in offer homes to children who display a range of complex behavioural needs.
- Mental health – the conversation around mental health has become more open in recent years. No longer seen as a weakness, people are seeking the help and treatment that they need. There are cases of where some children and young people need to live with skilled foster carers due to mental health illnesses.
- Disabilities – some children need foster care as part of living with physical disabilities. This can mean long-term foster care, or it may be helpful for them to enjoy short-term foster placements as respite, an important factor in helping families.
Are numbers of children in foster care rising?
Figures suggest that 2017 was the year the number of children in the care system peaked at an all-time high – but there are not enough foster carers to satisfy demand.
Every child in care has a different story to tell. Could you be the person who listens? Could you be the person who offers them a safe and loving home, providing them with the stability they need?
Being a foster parent is highly rewarding but also challenging at times. You could make a real positive difference to a child’s life. For more information on fostering, visit the Foster Care Associates website today!