Barnardo’s has warned of a ‘state of emergency’ as the number of children needing foster care has soared by 44% during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the children’s charity, there were 2,349 referrals between 1 March and 23 April this year to its fostering services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a figure which shot up from 1,629 for the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile the number of enquiries from people looking to become foster parents for the charity fell from 302 to 161 – a dramatic 47% drop.
Barnardo’s says this has created a ‘state of emergency’ as children who may have experienced abuse and neglect wait for places with loving foster families. Without more potential foster carers coming forward, hundreds of children referred to Barnardo’s will not be placed with a family.
The charity is now calling on people over 21, who have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child to get in touch and consider fostering a child.
Barnardo’s welcomes foster carers from all walks of life, including single people, those from the LGBTQ+ community and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
The charity also wants to make it clear that foster carers will be supported every step of the way by Barnardo’s, and will also be eligible for financial support including carers’ allowance.
The appeal comes after researchers warned children aged between four and 10 years old have experienced more mental health difficulties than teenagers during the lockdown.
‘The coronavirus pandemic has hit vulnerable families the hardest, with many reaching crisis point,’ said chief executive, Javed Khan.
‘This has created a state of emergency, as more children than ever need a safe and loving foster family, while fewer adults are coming forward as potential foster carers.
‘Barnardo’s has over 100 years’ experience bringing vulnerable children together with loving foster families, who provide the vital love and support children need to thrive. If you become a foster carer with Barnardo’s we will support you every step of the way with training and a dedicated social worker. You’ll also receive financial support, including a carer’s allowance.
‘Today, there are hundreds of children who have been referred to Barnardo’s and are waiting to be placed with a foster family. If you’re over 21, have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child in need, please do consider getting in touch today.’
Photo Credit – Sasint (Pixabay)