The British foster care system is currently on the brink of crisis; the shortage of foster carers in the UK means that care homes are at maximum capacity and children are being moved from pillar to post in an attempt to find a solution.
According to a survey compiled by Action for Children, 10 per cent of adults did not know fostering meant providing temporary care, confusing it with adoption. And it seems that this isn’t the only confusion surrounding fostering. Many of the people surveyed thought that those aged 55 and above, gay people, and men were not allowed to foster.
In reality, there is no maximum age to foster, and your sexual orientation and gender don’t affect your application. If you’re over 21, healthy, and have the space and compassion to care for a child, then you’re already half way there.
It seems that if we want to make a change to the British care system, we need to dispel the myths that surround fostering. But, why do we need more foster carers?
Instability can be damaging
We can all benefit from routine, but perhaps none more so than children. For many children, but particularly for those who have had a turbulent upbringing, familiarity is something that is craved.
Having a shortage of foster carers means that children in the care system are either kept in a care home or placed with families that only foster short-term. This continual upheaval can often make it difficult for children to make emotional bonds and educational progress. For this reason, it is important that any damaging instability and disruption is limited as far as possible.
A healthy routine, regardless of the length of placement, has no end of benefits. Not only does it help young people to develop good behavioural patterns and a sense of self-control, but it is also proven to have a positive impact on their studies.
We can make a better match
It’s important to find a good match between child and carer in terms of location, culture, lifestyle, language and interests.
The shortage of carers means that this is becoming increasingly difficult. Children are too frequently required to split up from their brothers and sisters, sometimes being moved away from family and friends, simply due to a lack of carers in the area.
Adoption isn’t appropriate for all children
While adoption is often considered a great result for many children in care, this isn’t the case in every instance. Long-term fostering, friends and family care, and special guardianship, has a huge part to play in the lives of many children.
Without a sufficient amount of carers however, there is a huge amount of strain placed on the system, meaning children are uprooted more often than they should be and fostering agencies have to wait longer to find a child an appropriate placement.
If you think you have what it takes to be a foster parent, contact Fostering Solutions today for more information on fostering.