We don’t need more demonising headlines about fostering, we need more foster carers, says Javed Khan of Barnardo’s, while Mike Stein points out that with proper support fostered children make good progress from poor starting points
Dawn Foster is, sadly, right when she writes that fostering tends to appear in the news for negative reasons (It’s hard enough as a foster child without being demonised, Opinion, 21 September).
When a troubled young person falls into the justice system, the implication is sometimes made that fostering could be part of the cause. What is forgotten is that these young people have often already suffered trauma or been at risk of harm – which is precisely why they need fostering.
Foster children are vulnerable, and can be challenging, but with the right support they can have fulfilling and positive futures. However, there are 81,000 children in care in the UK, and not enough foster carers to look after them. Without enough loving homes these children risk being moved around. Barnardo’s recruits foster carers for teenagers, disabled children, siblings and children from black and minority ethnic backgrounds. But we urgently need more to come forward.
We view our relationship with our carers as a partnership, offering continued support, training and advice for as long as it is needed.
Our foster carers are amazing people. They open up their hearts and homes to children who have often had a tough start in life. We see first-hand how the support of a stable, caring family really can transform children’s lives.
• Dawn Foster is right to argue that the foster care system should not be dismissed in light of events at Tower Hamlets or the Parsons Green arrests. There is robust evidence from studies that where young people are provided with stability and opportunities for attachment, helped to overcome educational deficits, leave care at a similar age as young people leave home in the general population, and are provided with personal and practical assistance into adulthood, they make good progress from very poor starting points. When local authorities fail to respond to these challenges they let both foster carers and the young people they care for down.
Emeritus professor, University of York
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