If you've considered fostering - but didn't think you'd be eligible - then think again. You can foster!
With over a quarter of people considering fostering, but almost 60 per cent mistakenly thinking they're not eligible, we want to bust the myths and tackle the many reasons people don't come forward.
We aim to bust the myths of fostering, and show how you can transform the lives of the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but… I don't think I'm the right age."You can. Over half of 45-54 year olds believe they're too old too foster. Legally, you must be over 18 (21 in Scotland) to foster. But we don't have any upper age limits. Our only requirements are that you have enough energy and experience to take care of lively children! In fact, almost 10 per cent of our foster carers are over 60 and three per cent (10) are under 30.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but… I'm male."You can. It doesn't matter what gender you are, both women and men make great foster carers. In fact, almost half of our foster carers are male. If you have energy, resilience and understanding, you can help to transform a child's life.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but… I'm gay."You can. Whether you are straight, gay or bisexual, we welcome applications from people who can bring different skills, knowledge and life experiences to the fostering role, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but… I don't own my home."You can. You don't need to own your house to foster. As long as each child can have their own bedroom, you can foster. Some of our foster carers live in rented accommodation and some own their homes.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but… I don't have children."You can. Although having your own children is a great way to gain the experience and knowledge you need to become a foster carer, you don't have to be a parent to foster. All we ask is that you've cared for children or young people through family contact, volunteering or employment. If you do have your own children living at home, we'll carefully match foster children or young people to the needs of your family and circumstances.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but… I'm single."You can. We don't have any requirements about your marital status. Our foster carers may be single, married, in a civil partnership or living with a partner. Almost 30 per cent of our foster carers are single.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but... I haven't worked with children or young people."You can. Almost 60 per cent of our foster carers come from backgrounds not related to childcare. These range from taxi drivers to accountants to running a fish and chip shop! We'll offer you excellent training, development and support so you're prepared for the challenges and rewards of fostering. We just ask that you've got some experience caring for children or young people through your family or volunteering.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but... I don't think they recruit carers from my ethnicity."You can. We need all types of carers to reflect the types of children and young people who need a place to stay when they can't live with their birth families. We welcome applications from all people who can bring different skills, knowledge and life experiences to the fostering role, whatever their ethnicity.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but... I can't afford to give up work."You can. We need carers who can give their full-time attention to the children and young people staying with them. But we know fostering is challenging work that needs to be professionally recognised. So if your current role means you don't have the time to become a carer, don't worry. By being paid, carers can focus on their time and skills on caring for children and young people.
Myth: "I'd love to foster, but I'm not sure I can make a difference."You can. By fostering, you'll transform the lives of the most vulnerable and neglected children and young people. Ninety-five per cent of the children who live with an Action for Children foster carer said it had helped them, and a further 80 per cent said it had helped them a lot. With over 89,000 children and young people in care, and almost 60 per cent of them in foster homes, we need people like you.
Myths about foster care are threatening a crisis in the service in the UK, a charity claims.
Some 10% of adults surveyed for Action for Children did not know fostering meant providing temporary care, confusing it with adoption.
And a large proportion believed those aged above 55, gay people, and men were barred from becoming foster carers.
"There is an urgent need to tackle these misconceptions," said Darren Johnson, of Action for Children.
Figures produced by another fostering organisation have suggested at least 9,000 new foster families will be needed in the UK by the end of the 2013 to cope with record numbers of children in care.
Urgent needThe Fostering Network says there are now a record 61,700 children in foster care and with 13% of foster carers leaving the service each year there is an urgent need to recruit.
The Action for Children survey asked more than 2,000 adults about their attitudes to fostering.
One in three believed wrongly that you could not foster if you lived in rented accommodation.
A similar number were unaware that foster carers received financial support and wrongly thought they would be barred from foster care if they were not in full-time employment.
Many people also thought certain groups were barred from fostering - with 54% thinking over-55s were excluded; 16% that men could not foster and one in three that gay people would not be accepted.
An overwhelming proportion of those surveyed (96%) were unaware of the numbers in care in the UK - some 91,000 children.
'Myth busting'The charity has launched a myth-busting guide to fostering, hoping to encourage more people to provide temporary homes to children with family problems.
Mr Johnson said fear of rejection often led to delays in would-be foster carers volunteering themselves.
He added: "With myths preventing people from coming forward and the public not knowing the true extent of just how many children are currently in care, we are on course for a crisis.
"This could be prevented by helping people to understand that in the majority of cases they can foster and have a lot to offer a young person in care."
Jackie Sanders, of the Fostering Network, said: "Fostering services face a big challenge every year, recruiting thousands of foster carers to replace those who leave and to provide homes for growing numbers of children coming into care.
"A wide pool of carers is needed to help fostering services find the right foster home for every child, first time.
"It's important to bust myths about who can apply to foster, but it's just as important to outline the skills that foster carers need, and to be clear about where there are current gaps.
"Across the UK there is currently a particular need to find people who can care for sibling groups, disabled children and teenagers."
A DfE spokesman said: "Foster carers are the unsung heroes of the care system. They make an invaluable difference to vulnerable children - offering them routine, stability and loving homes.
"We want people from all walks of life to come forward to foster which is why are making it easier for them to do so. We are spending £750,000 to help councils recruit and retain a range of foster carers and have invested an extra £3.7 million to support vulnerable families and those already fostering."
After thousands of people put themselves in the frame for this year’s campaign, the Fostering Network is delighted to announce that Foster Care Fortnight 2014 will take place on 12-25 May 2014.
Foster Care Fortnight, the Fostering Network’s annual campaign aimed at raising the profile of fostering, provides an opportunity for fostering services up and down the country to get out into their communities and speak to potential new foster carers. In 2014 the campaign will be extra special because the Fostering Network will also be celebrating 40 years as the leading charity for all those involved in foster care throughout the UK.
Jackie Sanders, head of media and campaigns at the Fostering Network, said, “Foster Care Fortnight 2013 engaged people across the UK with so many spreading the word about the amazing work that foster carers do, and the positive effect they can have of the lives of children in care.
“We were delighted with how local fostering services used the 2013 get in the frame theme to engage with their communities, both on and offline. What is essential now is that the hard work continues to turn enquiries into applications, and applications into approvals.
“Foster Care Fortnight 2013 also helped to secure fostering back on the news agenda, and the work that has followed it, such as the Fostering Network’s Don’t Move Me campaign, has shown the Government that the foster care community is vocal and committed, and will keep on campaigning and working for the recognition it deserves.
“The Fostering Network will be proud to lead that march again in 2014.”
A series of resources will be available for fostering services in the Fostering Network’s membership in the run up to the campaign. To keep up to date with plans for Foster Care Fortnight 2014, and with recruitment and retention news throughout the year, staff from fostering services can subscribe to the Fostering Network’s free Attracting and Keeping Carers blog. This monthly blog contains information and updates on local and regional activities and events to support the development of recruitment and retention strategies.
Dear members, colleagues and supporters,
I am delighted to be able to introduce you to New Family Social’s new Director, Tor Docherty, who our Trustees have selected from a very strong field of candidates.
I look forward to working with Tor over the coming months to support her in her new role, and will be introducing her to the many agencies, organisations and individuals we work with. Tor told me recently someone had said that taking over NFS was like her adopting my baby – if that’s the case, I am confident the baby is in very good hands!
Today is my last day as Director. Running NFS during its first 6 years has been an absolute privilege, and I would like to thank everyone who has helped the charity on its way, and to wish everyone all the very best for the future.
Please find the message below from Tor.
“I am thrilled to become New Family Social’s new Director. I have been a member for three years during which I have made many good friends and received lots of support. I have more than fifteen years’ experience of working in the voluntary sector in national and regional charities in the roles of Chief Executive, senior manager, volunteer and trustee. I have worked for four LGBT charities and volunteered for others. I am passionate about the voluntary sector, equality and the needs of LGBT people in all our diversity.
I live in Cambridgeshire with my partner and our three children aged seven, four and one. Our youngest was placed for adoption in April.
I am looking forward to meeting NFS’s members, volunteers, supporters and partner agencies.
TACT has joined with Research in Practice and Action for Children to win a contract with the Department for Education to design and trial a range of resources, specifically around fostering and adoption. The contract, which runs until the end of March 2014, will involve the development of training materials and the delivery of nine regional, two-day train-the-trainer events that will contribute to practitioners’ continued professional development. The programme will include multi-method approaches, and will be available to all local authorities in England and a number of independent providers. These materials will not just be for social workers already practising within fostering and adoption settings but also aimed at the wider social work workforce and others involved with looked after children.
The resources will equip trainers with materials, knowledge and skills around a range of key topics, including:
TACT was delighted to be invited by RIP to join its consortium, as not only do we have expertise in this area, but we recognise the importance of getting these issues addressed within social care, in order to help young people in the care system.
The theme for this year’s annual conference is putting the child at the heart of foster care.
Many of us recognise that foster care today can feel driven by targets, processes and procedures and that it can be all too easy to lose sight of the child in the middle of it all.
This year’s conference will challenge that situation, providing new insights and tools so members of the fostering team – whether they are foster carers, social workers or team managers – can put the child at the heart of foster care every time.
The conference will:
Seminars and workshops
We will be hearing from a variety of high profile, expert speakers through a combination of keynote addresses, workshops and seminars. Speakers include:
News & Jobs
News stories and job vacancies from our member agencies, the fostering sector and the world of child protection and safeguarding as a whole.
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