THE NUMBER of children being taken into foster care in the North West of England is on the rise, although the speed at which it is increasing has slowed down.
An Ofsted report on fostering in England was released yesterday and shows that 85,890 children and young people experienced living in foster care at some point in the period between 1 April 2014 to 31 March 2015.
One area in which the results are particularly positive is that there has been a five percent increase in the number of brother and sister sibling groups which are placed together following assessment.
We spoke to one fosterer from Manchester, under the pseudonym of “Dave”, who believes that more people should be encouraged to care for siblings if they have the facilities to do so.
“We had our first kids placed with us within a week, a sibling group of a boy and a girl. We were very excited and also a bit apprehensive. This placement should have been for a weekend and they stayed for nine months. They eventually moved to long-term carers and we still stay in touch.”
“I love telling people I am a foster carer and I am very proud of what I do. I love talking about the kids’ achievements. Foster carers are vital to look after kids who haven’t experienced a positive family environment.”
Despite positive stories and the recent findings there is still a concern for the lack of carers actually taking care of siblings groups.
Miriam Ghebremehed is the marketing manager of Swiis foster care, and she believes that the problem is down to a lack of carers who can actually cater for the needs of siblings even if they have the intention to do so.
“We need more specialised fosters, dealing in older children and larger sibling groups. The results aren’t shocking for us in the industry, but are interesting.”
“We don’t have foster carers who can accommodate large sibling groups, they are still being spilt up. There are a lot of key areas, but I think it is just raising awareness about the foster caring needs. Especially in the North West, you have got quite high numbers of children in care,” she told Quays News.
“It is difficult, I fully understand that the children need to have their own bedroom at least after a certain age. But what makes that different then is that if you say you have five children, how many people do you know that have a six bedroom house that is almost empty? That’s the problem.
“We do have a few specialist carers who do specialise in larger sibling groups, but that is our concern. This year we ran the campaign on social media ‘Keep siblings together’, where I think it is just about realising how big an impact siblings have on one another,” she continued.
“They’ve already been taken away from their parents, to then spilt them up from the siblings, probably the only family they have left in a day to day life.”
By Rich Fay