More than 900 new foster families need to be found in the South-East in the coming year to ensure that all children who need fostering can live with the right family to meet their needs, according to charity The Fostering Network.
There is a particular need for families who can foster teenagers and groups of brothers and sisters.
The new figures, which have been published on the first day of The Fostering Network’s Foster Care Fortnight (May 14-24), show that 8,100 families are needed across the UK (6,800 in England, 200 in Northern Ireland, 550 in Wales and 550 in Scotland).
Without more foster families in the South-East coming forward during 2018, and especially those who could foster teenagers and sibling groups, some children will find themselves living a long way from their family, school and friends, being split up from brothers and sisters, or being placed with a foster carer who might not have the right skills and experience to meet their specific needs.
More foster families means that a fostering service can match the needs of each child more closely with the skills and experience that each foster carer brings, allowing them to find the right home for each child, first time, and to improve stability for fostered children.
That is why, this Foster Care Fortnight, The Fostering Network is calling for people who think they might have the relevant skills and experience to come forward to find out more about fostering.
Kevin Williams, chief executive of The Fostering Network said: “Foster carers do something amazing on behalf of our society, opening their hearts and homes to fostered children, often offering them their first experience of a stable, secure and caring home.
“Looking after fostered children, many of whom who have experienced trauma, abuse or neglect, can be challenging. But it is that challenge, along with the reward of seeing these children and young people flourish, that many foster carers across the South East say makes them proud to foster.”
Dan and his partner Joe are therapeutic foster carers from Bognor Regis who also specialise in looking after at risk teenagers.
Dan says: “What makes me proud to foster is when you realise the impact that you have made in a young person’s life, especially when they’ve gone from arriving in a scared and vulnerable state, to being able to express themselves and let their personality shine.
“One of the best bits about fostering are the happy times we have together doing new things that some fostered children haven’t experienced, particularly things people take for granted like going to the beach.
“Being able to help a child and ensuring that they are given opportunities that other children receive is so rewarding.”
People who think they have the relevant skills and experience to be able to look after fostered children, enjoy a challenge and have a spare room can find out more at www.thefosteringnetwork.org.uk/couldyoufoster.