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2024: the year of pursuing a career in foster care

A leading children’s charity is working to urge more people to consider a career in foster care after research found 73% of adults are worried there aren’t enough carers to provide safe homes. 

Exclusive research, which was published last week by children’s charity Barnardo’s, found that despite the number of children going into care continuing to rise in most areas of the UK, there aren’t enough people willing to foster.

The research, which came from a YouGov poll, displayed almost three quarters of adults in the UK are concerned there aren’t enough carers to provide homes, although a mere 7% said they were willing to consider fostering a child within the next 10 years.

‘The aging population of existing foster carers, coupled with fewer people choosing to become carers, is having a devasting impact,’ Brenda Farrell, Barnardo’s UK head of business fostering & adoption said. ‘With record numbers of children going into care in most areas of the UK, we urge anyone who could offer a safe and stable home to a child to find out more about fostering.’

Brenda added: ‘The vast majority of children coming into care go into foster care – 68% in England – so it is vitally important there are foster cares there to support them.’

Some of the reasons adults gave in the survey for not wanting to go into foster care was 82% of those polled over the age of 55 said they were ‘too old’, whilst more than a third aged between 25 and 44 said they already have children or want children biologically connected to them (34%).

However, one example of a young boy who went into foster care, could be enough to inspire adults to take up the career. Jamie, aged 25, was born in Glasgow and went into foster care with Barnardo’s and said from that moment, his life improve immeasurably.

Jamie said: ‘When I went to Barnardo’s, it was life-changing, and the people in Barnardo’s changed my life. I got matched with a foster place, but, at the start, I found it challenging because, for the first time, I started to get to know myself and who I was.

‘Foster carers can change your life for the better and they maybe don’t realise to what extent. It’s the simple things in life that so many people maybe take for granted – that it’s nice to come into the house and it’s clean and tidy; that there’s your dinner every night; or just deciding to go to the cinema.’

When polled, current Barnardo’s foster carers said they found it a ‘privilege’ to make a positive difference to the lives of children and the vast majority said the best thing was being able to provide a safe, secure, and stable environment to a child or watching a child grow, develop, and reach their dreams.

Against this backdrop, Hilary Armstrong, operations manager at Barnardo’s Fostering & Adoption NI, claimed that this year should be about busting the myths associated with foster care and encouraging more adults into the sector.

Hilary said: ‘We know there are people in Northern Ireland who would love to foster, but believe things like their age, financial situation, or because they have biological children, would prevent them from doing so.

‘We want to bust these myths, as we believe that any loving person can make a wonderful foster carer. There is no upper age limit and fostering can be a hugely beneficial experience for the entire family, including birth children. At Barnardo’s we offer support and training every step of the way.’

Image: Barnardo’s 

More on this topic:

An influx of new foster carers are urgently needed in England, research shows

Pioneering new approach fostered to help care home residents

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