19 October 2023

Can you do long-term fostering? Beating the foster carer crisis in the North West

Can you do long-term fostering? Beating the foster carer crisis in the North West

Overview  Answering common questions about long-term fostering, looking at what foster care statistics mean for the North West and how potential new foster carers can help. 

At Foster Careline, we’re committed to providing foster carers in the North West with the support they need to help a child or young person flourish. Across our region, foster carers are in demand for all types of fostering. But this post examines the rising need for long-term foster care for children, young people and sibling groups. Could you do long-term fostering?

Who can do long-term fostering?

Long-term foster carers come from all kinds of walks of life. They might be single, married or in a long-term partnership. Before fostering, foster carers’ careers may have taken different twists and turns; we’re not looking for a particular type of experience. What you do need is a strong desire to have a positive impact on a child or young person’s experience of life. To be eligible to be a foster carer, you must meet some simple criteria, like having a furnished spare bedroom that a young person can have all to themselves. 

You will also need characteristics like patience and empathy. Plus, energy and commitment to help children and young people to grow in confidence and thrive. Some long-term foster carers choose to give up other employment when they start fostering. However, we do have some foster carers who work part-time or couples with one parent working outside the home. What’s really important is that you can meet the needs of the child living with you and are available when needed.

What is the longest you can foster a child?

As a long-term foster carer, you can improve the outcomes for children and young people by welcoming them into your home for an extended period. They may stay with you for several years or even be part of your family unit until adulthood. Under the government’s care leavers’ ‘staying put’ scheme, some young people stay with their foster families until they’re 21 or even 25 while they complete an education or training programme. 

Foster care statistics North West

  • Demand for foster care is increasing year-on-year across the UK, and this is reflected in the North West, where hundreds of children are waiting to be matched with the right foster carers.
  • The Foster Careline team is made up of social workers, office staff, a service manager, team manager. We also work with Fostering Support Workers, clinicians and educational specialists to ensure children, young people, and foster carers can access the help and support they need. 
  • The Foster Careline head office is in Hooton, Ellesmere Port, but our team works across the entire North West region.
  • We provide a complete programme of free foster care training to prepare you for your role and get the best out of your rewarding career.
  • There’s a strong fostering community in the North West; we run a calendar of events for our foster carers. We’re also part of the Five Rivers Child Care family, which provides opportunities to participate in national events.
  • Across the North West, we run monthly foster care support groups with online and in-person events.

Why are foster carers leaving?

The need for foster carers for children unable to stay safely at home with their families is increasing yearly. Unfortunately, the number of foster carers is not keeping pace. 

In recent years, changes in how people work and the rising cost of living have had a negative impact on the number of foster carers in the UK. The media reports that there are fewer homes with spare bedrooms that a foster child could call their own. Many previously ‘spare’ rooms have been turned into offices. Some people have chosen to downsize and have fewer bedrooms because of rising rent, mortgages and utility bills. 

We recognise that times are harder for everyone and want to let you know we’re here to support you. We know it’s critical that foster carers receive the support they need to do this vital job. We’re proud to offer a generous fostering allowance of at least £418 per week per child, which comes with a generous tax-free allowance. Our fostering allowances are also reviewed annually. Being a foster carer is an incredibly rewarding job, but it does come with challenges, which is why we also offer 24/7 support and a dedicated programme of free training and development.

“Foster carers are well supported to meet children’s physical, emotional and  psychological health needs. Alongside the support they receive from the agency, they benefit from access to the wider organisation’s education and therapy services.  This provides carers with additional resources and further enhances their ability to  meet children’s needs.” Ofsted, 2021

Can you help us tackle the foster care crisis in the North West?

At Foster Careline, we are committed to improving outcomes for children. One of the ways we do this is by working with foster carers who provide stability and support to help children thrive. Statistics show the number of children, young people and sibling groups coming into care is growing. When homes can’t be found in the local area, children sometimes have to move out of the area. At an already difficult time for children and young people, living away from their roots can impact their sense of belonging and relationships. Could you be a foster carer and help us to help them? Together we can tackle our region’s foster care crisis.

Want to learn more about the role of long-term foster carers in your area? We would love to hear from you! You can submit an online enquiry or call us on 0151 378 6873.