Children needing foster care rises by 44 per cent

Barnardo’s has declared a ‘state of emergency’ after discovering that the number of children needing foster care during the coronavirus pandemic has risen by 44 per cent.

The children’s charity also claim that the number of people looking to become foster parents plummeted by nearly half compared to the same period last year.

From 1 March to 23 April 2020 there were 2,349 referrals to Barnardo’s fostering services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, a figure which shot up from 1,629 for the same period in 2019. Meanwhile the number of enquiries from people looking to become foster parents for the charity fell from 302 to 161 - a dramatic 47 per cent drop.  

Barnardo’s says this has created a ‘state of emergency’ as children who may have experienced abuse and neglect wait for places with loving foster families. Without more potential foster carers coming forward, hundreds of children referred to Barnardo’s will not be placed with a family.

Barnardo’s is calling on people over 21, who have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child to get in touch and consider fostering a child. The charity also wants to make it clear that foster carers will be supported every step of the way by Barnardo’s, and will also be eligible for financial support including carers’ allowance.

Javed Khan, Barnardo’s chief executive, said: “The coronavirus pandemic has hit vulnerable families the hardest, with many reaching crisis point. This has created a state of emergency, as more children than ever need a safe and loving foster family, while fewer adults are coming forward as potential foster carers. Barnardo’s has over 100 years’ experience bringing vulnerable children together with loving foster families, who provide the vital love and support children need to thrive. 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.”

Judith Blake, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said: “Councils continue to do an excellent job ensuring that children have access to support despite the difficulties experienced during the coronavirus pandemic. Councils have been encouraging applicants from people of all backgrounds who are interested in fostering and adoption, and will continue to support those who are able to provide a stable home for children in care

“We have also been making the case that a child’s needs and voice is at the centre of any decision made about their futures. The coronavirus crisis demonstrates how important it is that all partners work together to deliver the best for the most vulnerable children and families. It is therefore important that the government provides the long-term sustainable funding to ensure all children can find suitable, stable homes.”