Barnardo’s is urging more people to consider fostering vulnerable children after the number of referrals it has received for children needing foster care has doubled.
The leading national children’s charity saw a 97% increase in referrals to its fostering services this August compared to the same month last year.
The coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures have increased pressure on families, with many suffering job losses, bereavement and mental health issues.
Barnardo’s says this may be having a drastic impact on the number of children needing foster care and expects referral numbers to climb even more now schools are open and as teachers and other professionals identify vulnerable young people as needing the support.
It is more important than ever for people to come forward to find out about fostering, to ensure the right foster carers are there when children and young people desperately need stability and a loving family.
This urgent appeal comes during Barnardo’s Fostering Fortnight, which kicks off today (28th September), and follows the charity declaring a “state of emergency” earlier this year after experiencing a 47% drop in the number of enquiries from people looking to become foster carers during early lockdown.*
TV personality and Barnardo’s Fostering and Adoption Ambassador Lydia Bright, whose daughter was born earlier this year, is also adding her voice to Barnardo’s call for more foster carers.
She grew up surrounded by foster children as her mother, Debbie Douglas, who is also a Barnardo’s Fostering and Adoption Ambassador, has fostered more than 250 children.
Lydia said: “I will always be passionate about fostering and how it can benefit families as I had such a good time growing up with my many foster siblings. We will always be glad we have been able to care and be a family for so many vulnerable children but they also enriched our lives and gave back so much to us too. It was a really positive experience for all of us.
“Now that I have my own daughter I realise even more how important it is for a child to have a loving family so I really would really encourage anyone who thinks they can help to get in touch with Barnardo’s to find out more.”
Debbie added: “All children deserve to have a happy and worry-free childhood and over the past 25 years I’ve seen how fostering really can transform their lives. Going into care is really difficult; children don’t know what to expect. They may be upset to leave their families and they may be affected by trauma they have experienced too.
“So it’s really important there is a loving family ready and waiting to welcome and care for them. It can make such a difference to their lives so please contact Barnardo’s if you think you could be there for a vulnerable child when they need it.”
Barnardo’s is particularly calling for people who believe they could offer care for children who are disabled, have siblings, those who are aged 10 and older, or those who come from a religious or minority ethnic background. It is important for the needs of these children to be met and for any child to be given the opportunity to continue their religious or cultural beliefs with foster carers who are able to support this.
All carers fostering with Barnardo's will have access to specialist training and will be supported every step of the way by a dedicated support worker. They will also be eligible for financial support including carers' allowance.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “Children who are taken into care have often suffered trauma such as neglect or abuse, and desperately need foster carers who can love and support them when they need it most.
“Sadly the pandemic and recession are increasing pressures on families, meaning more children need foster families than ever, so we are urgently asking anyone who thinks they can help to come forward. You will have full support and training throughout your fostering journey, from the moment you enquire, during the approval process, when you welcome your child into your home and beyond.
“We welcome foster carers from all walks of life and backgrounds, so it doesn’t matter if you are single or with a partner, male or female, a homeowner or renting, straight or identify as LGBTQ+, and from any ethnic, religious or cultural background, we want to hear from you.”
“Please contact us to find out more if you can help give vulnerable children a loving family.”
To find out more about becoming a foster carer or the support Barnardo’s can offer visit: www.barnardos.org.uk/foster or call 0800 0277 280.