A leading fostering and adoption charity is reaching out for more carers for older children, as they fear they're gradually becoming forgotten, amid a rise in urgent foster carers for younger age groups.
While considerable focus on placing babies and younger children is understandable, it's important not to forget the older children, urges the charity, as nearly 43% of children who entered care in the UK last year were aged 10 and over, with some as old as 16 and 17.
Anne Marie Carrie, Barnardo’s chief executive, says fostering charities need more foster parents so that the system works for all children, of all ages.
"We have seen many of the older children we work with blossom into healthy, happy, adults after being placed with the right foster family," says Carrie. "Which is why I want to encourage more people to open their homes and their hearts to help to transform an older child’s life."
Barnardo's lead director for family placement, Jonathan Ewen told The Huffington Post that potential foster parents can call their helpline, 08000 277 280, to register their interest.
"We want to encourage anyone who thinks they would make a good foster carer to give us a call. There’s no obligation at this stage, it’s just an opportunity for people to find out more," explains Ewen,
"Barnardo’s has over 100 years of experience of placing children with families so we can tell you exactly what's involved, how to prepare your home and family, and provide tailored support and training for those who go on to become foster carers."
Other fostering charities are supporting the move by Barnardo's, including the Fostering Network, who agree that older children and teens need more foster parents.
"We welcome the fact that Barnardo's is drawing further attention to the need for more foster carers. Due to the continued rise in children coming into care who require foster homes, an ageing foster care population and around 14 per cent of the workforce leaving every year, more foster carers are urgently needed," Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network told The Huffington Post.
"Fostering services have to recruit at least 8,750 more foster carers in 2012 alone, and while we are encouraging people to come forward to look after all types of children, there is a really acute need for people to foster older children and particularly teenagers.
"Too many teenagers who end up in care are missing out at a stage in their lives when a good foster family could make all the difference, helping them to achieve at school and prepare for adulthood."
For more information on how you can become a foster parent, visit Could You Foster, or call the Fosterline on 0800 040 7675.
"We know that virtually all fostering services are in desperate need of more people to foster teenagers, so if you think you have what it takes to provide them with a stable and secure home get in touch with your local fostering service to find out more. Now is the time to care," adds Tapsfield.