Charity dispells fostering myths in a bid to prevent care crisis in South West (From Wiltshire Times)
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Charity dispells fostering myths in a bid to prevent care crisis in South West
9:22am Monday 9th September 2013 in Wiltshire
A campaign to encourage more people to consider fostering has found that 96 per cent of people in the South West do not know the extent of the fostering crisis in the region, according to new research published today.
Action for Children, a leading foster care provider, has found the majority of people in the South West are unaware that there are 4,090 children in foster care in the region, and that there is a shortage of 600 foster families this year.
With the predicted shortfall of carers, as a result of people leaving the profession and the rise of children coming into the system, the charity is concerned that the situation will only get worse.
As part of a drive to tackle the foster carer shortage, the charity has launched a campaign to dispel the most common myths that prevent people from becoming foster carers.
These myths include: • Renters cannot foster
• Only those full time employment can foster
• Those who are gay cannot foster
• Men cannot foster
• Over 55s cannot foster.
Action for Children spoke to more than 2,000 people across the UK to understand if they would consider fostering and if they knew who can foster.
The scale of the lack of understanding in the South West has surprised the charity:
• Over half (54 per cent) of the region thinks that if you are over 55 you will not be approved as a carer.
• Over a third (40 per cent) believe you need to be in full time employment and are unaware that carers are given financial support.
• A third (36 per cent) of people are under the assumption that if you are gay you can’t foster.
Action for Children also discovered that:
• 14 per cent of people living in the South West believe that if you are a man you can’t be the main foster carer.
• 32 per cent of people believe if you live in rented accommodation you can’t foster.
Mark Kingston, children’s placement manager for Action for Children in the South West, said: “With these myths preventing people from coming forward, and the public not knowing the true extent of just how many children are currently in care, we are on course for a foster care crisis in the South West.
"There’s an urgent need to tackle these misconceptions to move children into loving homes so they have the stability they need.
“With the UK’s population at an all-time high, sadly the number of children coming into care will continue to rise, and so will the need for carers.”
A child or young person is fostered when they cannot live with their own family due to temporary problems that they are facing, which could range from drug and alcohol abuse to ill health.
On any one day there are more than 62,000 children living with foster families across the UK, yet Action for Children found that 10 per cent of the region does not understand what fostering actually means and why children and young people are placed in foster care.
Mr Kingston said: “It is estimated that it takes four years from someone to think they would like to foster to actually picking up the phone and making their initial enquiry.
"So often the reason behind this delay is because of the misconceptions they have, and their fear of rejection. But this could be prevented by helping people to understand that in the majority of cases they can foster and that have a lot to offer a young person in care.”
In direct response to the findings, and the scale of the misunderstanding facing the UK, Action for Children has launched an online Fostering Myth Busting Academy on its website, which it hopes will help people understand fostering better and empower them to take that first step to opening up their home to a child in need.
For more information on how to become a foster carer and to take part in Action for Children’s Fostering Academy visit actionforchildren.org.uk/academy or facebook.com/ActionforChildren.
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