Children’s charity Barnardo’s has warned that its fostering service faces a recruitment crisis as more of its carers consider retiring and demand for its support increases.
Over the last 12 months there were 19,996 referrals to its fostering service, an increase of 28% on the previous year.
This comes as the average age of its carers is now 55 and over and considering retiring.
This twin threat to it foster carer service is a central focus of its annual fostering recruitment drive this month.
“With record numbers of children in need of care and support, we urgently need more people to consider becoming foster carers,” said Barnardo’s chief executive Lynn Perry.
“At Barnardo’s many of our most experienced foster carers are now retiring or nearing retirement age, meaning it’s especially important that others come forward.”
Another focus of this year’s recruitment drive is a need for more carers to support increasing referrals to help older children.
However, a Barnardo’s commissioned survey indicates that potential carers are reluctant to support teenagers.
While 24% of people say they would consider fostering a child over the next five years, only around one in ten of those interested in being a carer would foster a child aged 11-15. Also, just 3% would consider fostering a 16–17-year-old.
Promotion of its fostering service this month includes the views of one of its carers Cristine Claire, who is currently supporting a 17-year-old from Eritrea.
"They add vitality to my life!" - Christine shares her experience of fostering with @barnardos.— Barnardo’s (@barnardos) September 7, 2022
The need for foster carers continues to increase due to higher numbers of children entering care in the UK.
Start your fostering journey: https://t.co/edJoTznhi6#FosteringFocusMonth pic.twitter.com/YiFXovA1Cr
“Foster care can provide vulnerable children with the love, care and support they so desperately need to overcome challenges and work towards a positive future,” Perry added.
“At Barnardo’s we welcome passionate individuals from all walks of life, and all communities. If you are over 21, have a spare room, are a UK resident and have the time and commitment to care for a child, then you could help transform their life chances.”