Younger adults encouraged to become foster carers
More young adults are being encouraged to consider fostering after it was revealed that just 4% of foster carers are aged under 34 years-old.
Research by the Fostering Network has found that three quarters of foster carers are aged over 45-year-old – nearly a third (30%) are also over 55 year of age.
The fostering charity said with almost a third foster carers approaching the age where they may consider retiring, more had to be done to recruit younger people.
Lisa Witter, senior supervising social worker at Perpetual Fostering, said: “Whilst it does seem that the more mature make applications, we value foster carers from all ages, and we very much consider the attributes that younger/ middle aged carers bring.
“It is important that our community of carers represents the wider community and society. By having a diverse range of carers, including diversity of age, we will be able to harness a broader spectrum of experience, knowledge and understanding.
It is estimated that a further 8,600 families will be needed this year to fulfil the fostering requirements of children’s services in the UK – particularly in regards to looking after teenagers and children with disabilities, as well as providing homes to groups of brothers and sisters.
With an estimated 12% of foster carers retiring from the role each year, it is important to ensure new foster carer are constantly being brought in to the foster caring community.
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said: “Older foster carers bring life experience and skills from other work to fostering, and do an amazing job in providing homes for thousands of fostered children. People even apply to foster when they are in their 50s and beyond, and we encourage applications at any age as long as people are fit and healthy.
“But these figures are worrying because they suggest that many foster carers may think about retiring over the next 10 to 15 years, at a time when we already need more people to come forward, particularly to offer homes to teenagers, children with disabilities and groups of brothers and sisters.
“It’s vital that we reach out to more younger people, in their 20s, 30s and early 40s, and are clear that what is important is not age, but rather the skills and qualities to look after fostered children. Younger foster carers will also be in a great position to offer homes to the many children who need to live with a foster family for the long term, often until the age of 21.”