This blog is written in the same week that Anne Longfield, The Children’s Commissioner, delivered her final speech. The focus was on how the UK can rebuild from the pandemic with the educational and wellbeing support of vulnerable children at its heart. 2020 was an extremely difficult year for vulnerable families and children, with the UN reporting that an increase in domestic abuse has become a shadow pandemic. With that in mind, it stands to reason that there has been an increase in the number of children and young people entering the fostering system.
In any given year there are usually an estimated 80,000 children and young people living in foster care in the UK. The pandemic has increased that number. It’s important to remember that there can are a multitude of reasons why a local authority would decide to place a child in to a safe and secure fostering environment. While reasons may include neglect, abuse, and abandonment, parental illness can also be a factor. With a shrinking of support bubbles and networks, the illness or hospitalisation of a lone parent can trigger the need for a short-term fostering placement. For others, the lockdowns have magnified existing abuse or neglect, requiring a long-term placement.
Many of us have felt an urge to do what we can to help, donating to food banks, volunteering to phone people who are isolated, offering neighbours the chance to add their shopping to your supermarket delivery slots. If anything, the pandemic has brought neighbourhoods together and has encouraged many of us to look out for others. One of the things that we can do is take a look at our spare rooms (there are an estimated 18.6million of them in the UK) and ponder whether we could use the space to help a young person in need achieve and thrive.
Becoming a foster carer is a hugely rewarding experience. As an independent fostering agency, we take the time to talk to our foster carers and the young people leaving our care to find out how each fostering placement has impacted on them. Some of the feedback we’ve received over the years has been inspirational. Just listen to Jade and Billy discussing how their foster parent made a positive impact on their lives, a career in fostering can be extremely rewarding.
Affinity Fostering pride ourselves in welcoming foster carers from all kinds of backgrounds to the Affinity Family. Our main prerequisites are that you must be over 21, have a spare room, and can pass our assessment and panel interview. Most importantly you must be passionate about supporting, helping and inspiring others. If you feel that you’ve got what it takes to start a career in foster care or are thinking that you’d like to do more to help in 2021, we’d love to hear from you.