07/12/2011 14:06 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Pensioners Becoming New Generation Of Foster Parents

Pensioners becoming new generation of foster parents Getty

Instead of retiring, increasing numbers of men and women are becoming foster parents.

Rather than accept a life of daytime telly and gardening, many are choosing to share their experience by giving troubled youngsters a loving home.

In Britain, there are approximately 59,000 children living with 45,000 foster families. But a recent report showed that the average age of foster carers is rising significantly, with more becoming "empty nest" foster carers.

Around 65 per cent of carers are over 50, with more than a quarter over the age of 60. There are even some in their 70s. In 2000, the average age of a foster mother was 46; now it is 53. For male foster carers, the age had risen from 47 to 54.

The Fostering Network - the leading charity for foster care - says that more younger people need to be encouraged to come forward because of the shorter working life of those nearer the top end of the age scale.

But educational psychologist Dr Kairen Cullen says being older has many benefits:

"A foster carer has to have a lot of patience and tolerance and I think it's fair to say that people with a larger amount of life experience are more likely to have developed these qualities."


With their own families grown up, people in their 50s and 60s can focus fully on the foster child and they have a wealth of life skills to pass on.


"People in this age group are also often fired up by the idea of giving something back and that altruistic motivation makes them enthusiastic carers."

June Singleton, a 65 year-old former nurse, told the Daily Mail that she and her husband Peter decided to become foster parents after retirement.

"I honestly think it's the best thing we've ever done," she said. "It's made us feel young again.

"Like lots of couples, we'd been married so long we'd almost run out of things to say to each other.

"We'd always been aware that there were children who didn't have families or who had bad starts in life, but never had the time to pursue it.

"In the first year, we had 152 children through our doors - most just for a night, so we didn't have the chance to bond with them. There was a ten-month-old baby and the rest were aged between five and 15."

If you'd like to find out more about fostering, call the Fosterline advice service on 0800 040 7675 or log on to