Foster carers needed to stem the current shortfall in Calderdale
A fostering organisation is encouraging more people to think about offering safe and loving homes to vulnerable children and young people as new figures suggest people across the North West of England are unaware of the true number of children and young people referred to social services.
This comes as the country gears up for Foster Care Fortnight, an annual campaign that raises the profile of fostering which runs until May 23.
A report commissioned by Safehouses Fostering – an independent fostering organisation and part of the Five Rivers social enterprise family - revealed that there is a distinct lack of awareness around the number of children entering the care system.
Only one percent of people surveyed across the North West of England had an accurate grasp on the true number of children being referred to social services each week.
Across England today, there are 57,380 children living with around 44,500 foster families, but more than 8,500 foster carers are still desperately needed nationwide to meet demand and help support children and young adults in need.
The number of looked after children and young people has risen steadily over the last 11 years, and this has increased significantly since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. This has put immense pressure on the fostering services, something Safehouses Fostering is keen to highlight this Foster Care Fortnight.
Discussing Foster Care Fortnight 2021, Martin Leitch, head of fostering operations at Safehouses Fostering, part of Five Rivers Child Care, which operates in Calderdale, said: “Children being taken into care is a sensitive and complex issue and something that people, generally, don’t want to think about.
"On average, over 1,000 children are referred to social services each week in England alone. Research has revealed that there has been a dramatic increase in referrals to social services since the start of the pandemic, and we are certain that it will continue to rise as it has done over the last several years.
“Today there is national shortage of more than 8,500 foster carers. This makes finding safe places for children to live extremely challenging. With the added post pandemic pressures, we are extremely concerned about whether there will be enough safe homes for vulnerable children in the greatest need.
“We are in desperate need of more foster families in Calderdale to care for children either on a temporary or permanent basis. If you’re a kind, compassionate person interested in fostering, do something different this year and get in touch to find out more.
"Fostering comes in many forms and can be tailored towards the needs and lifestyle of foster parent, or parents, and those in their care. Foster carers can work flexibly as respite or short-term foster carers, or they can have foster children and young people living with them long-term, meaning they would remain in care until they feel ready to live independently."
For more information on foster care, contact Safehouses Fostering on 01618 257197, email [email protected] or visit www.safehousesfostering.org.uk.