Key findings from the latest report highlights that the number of looked after children has increased steadily over the past 5 years and is now higher than at any point since 1985. The report shows there are 68,840 looked after children this year – a 1% increase from March 2013-March 2014; 30,430 children in care – an increase of 5% from 2013 and the number of adoptions has risen by 26% with 5,050 looked after children adopted during the year ending 31 March 2014.
Placements needed for 10-15 year olds
The largest increase is in the age group 10-15 year olds and the next largest is those 16 and over. Much of the increase is due to the rise in the number of children aged 16 and over who started to be looked after. As a result of the ‘Stay Put Law’ introduced in July this year, children can stay with foster carers until they are 21. The aim is to provide young people with a more natural transition to adulthood and independence.
Councils may have to move children out of area
Unfortunately, budget cuts mean that some councils will not have enough money to meet their statutory responsibilities and there is a risk that local authorities may face pressures to move young people out of foster care before they turn 18. To prevent this more foster carers are urgently needed to provide adequate homes for these children and young people who need secure, loving homes until the age of 21.
There is growing concern over a severe lack of foster carers in Rochdale. With 67 foster carers, 12 respite carers, and five ‘contract’ carers, the lack of suitable local carers means there is the threat that some children may have to be housed away from their local area and some may even have to move schools.
A new campaign called ‘Local People for Local Children’ aims to draw more local people forward to become carers.
Campaign manager Anne has said she hopes “to get local people to look after local children because we’d like Rochdale children to be fostered in Rochdale. It doesn’t matter whether potential carers are single, married, a parent, employed or a homeowner. What does matter is that people are flexible, tolerant, sympathetic and able to work with parents and social workers towards what is best for each child or young person”.
Fostering not only brings rewards for the foster children, it is an extremely rewarding career for the carers and also offers financial rewards.
As Anne highlights “offering a child the love, care and attention that they deserve can bring with it a great amount of satisfaction.”