'Hundreds of lives could be changed for the better': Appeal for Lancashire foster carers following impact of pandemic on the care system
There is an ongoing need for more foster carers in Lancashire, with 1,040 children and young people in need of foster care in the county - that amounts to 20 new children and young people each week.
And the increased pressure of the lockdown on vulnerable families, job security and poverty have led to an increase in young people needing homes, according to leading charity Barnardo's.
A North West fostering organisation has now announced it is expanding its services across Lancashire to meet the growing demand and support the hundreds of children and young people currently in need of a loving family.
According to statistics from Barnardo's charity, the number of children entering the care system in England has increased by 57 per cent since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
Colette Abbiss, Fostering Operations Manager for Foster Careline, said “Hundreds of children’s lives could be changed for the better by a loving, supporting home and foster family so we’re asking people across Lancashire to consider a move into fostering.
“We’d like to encourage caring individuals, who may be facing redundancy or a change in their job situation because of the coronavirus pandemic, to consider how rewarding fostering a child or young person can be. Foster Careline provides the very best training and support to those who want to enter the profession and for those who already have experience.
“We’d love to hear from people who are nurturing, compassionate and enjoy caring and supporting others, as well as anyone who has questions about fostering and the variety of roles involved.”
The organisation is looking to recruit for fostering roles across the county, including long-term carers, short-term carers, sibling group carers and emergency foster carers who work with young people with complex needs.
The news comes as charity Barnardo's announced that the number of children in England urgently needing foster care from Barnardo’s had risen by more than half during the coronavirus pandemic.
And the charity found that a demand for foster families increased by almost 29 per cent in the North West between April last year and February this year.
It announced that without potential foster carers coming forward, hundreds of children referred to the charity will not be placed with a family.
Brenda Farrell, head of fostering and adoption for Barnardo’s, said: “Sadly we have seen demand for foster placements rise during the pandemic as domestic violence has escalated, more families have lost jobs, putting them under increasing financial pressure, and stress and mental health problems have also increased.
“We are working with local authorities to assess the impact of the pandemic on families and care for the most vulnerable. We are not out of the pandemic yet and because it takes six to eight months to assess and train a foster carer we really need members of the public to come forward now.
“Lockdown has made people reconsider their life choices and for some this could be the time to seriously consider whether they could become a foster carer and give a child a safe, secure home.”
And Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “Vulnerable families have been hit hardest by the Covid-19 pandemic, with many reaching crisis point. This means more children than ever need a safe and loving foster family to care for them.
"If you become a foster carer with Barnardo’s we will support you every step of the way with training and a dedicated social worker. You’ll also receive financial support, including a carer’s allowance.
“Today, there are hundreds of children who have been referred to Barnardo’s and are waiting to be placed with a foster family. We urgently need more potential foster carers to come forward. If you’re over 21, have a spare room and the time and commitment to supporting a child in need, please do consider getting in touch today.”
Lancashire County Council provides a fostering team who are available 24/7 to offer support and advice, with foster carers given access to their own social worker, a dedicated helpline, and flexible training.
The county council has also recently introduced some new initiatives so that it can provide support and guidance for new foster carers including a foster care academy and fostering mentoring scheme.
Edwina Grant OBE, Lancashire County Council's executive director for education and children's services, said: "We really value our foster carers, and recognise the incredible impact they can make on a child or young person at a time when it is really needed, whilst also enriching their own lives.
"We always need more foster carers from all walks of life, and I want to remind people that we welcome applications from people of all ages, sexuality, gender, single, married, cohabiting, in same-sex relationships, with or without their own children, working or not.
"Fostering is a way for some people to have children in their lives, and importantly to make a real difference to those children.
"The ongoing pandemic might have changed many things, but it certainly hasn't altered the fact that there are still children who need someone or a family to offer them love, comfort, security and stability."
Thanks for reading. If you value what we do and are able to support us, a digital subscription is just £1 per month for the first two months. Try us today by clicking here.