1. ITV Report

Fostering: The facts

There are currently 672 children in foster care in our region Photo: PA

Every year a two week period is set aside in May to help promote and raise awareness of fostering.

The annual campaign aims to encourage more people to look into foster care and see for themselves whether they have the right skills and qualities to become a foster parent.

There are hundreds of children in foster care across our region, with each local authority looking for more people to come forward and offer their homes up to those children who need their help.

In Cumbria there are currently 618 children in care, 494 of whom are in foster care. Dumfries and Galloway have a total of 117 children currently in care, with 97 of those living with foster parents. In the Scottish Borders 85 children are in the care system and of them, 81 are in a foster home.

Foster parents should provide care to children who can't remain in their family home Credit: PA

What is fostering?

At it's simplest foster care provides a home for a child who is in need of care but unable to remain in their family home. The majority of this care is provided on a temporary basis, over the course of few days, weeks or months but can last for years.

There are however many types of foster care, including emergency foster care and 'respite' foster care, which provides care over a weekend to allow other foster carers a break.

Regardless of the length of time they provide care for, a foster parent must give support, stability and, of course, care to those children they look after.

It's a foster carers role to look after the children on a day-to-day basis, including making sure they attend school, health appointments and extra curricular activities.

How does fostering differ from adoption?

Fostering is different from adoption because the local authority in which the child lives remains responsible for them as their 'corporate parent'.

In many cases, it is also important to maintain links with the child's birth family through regular 'contact' meetings, which foster carers will help facilitate.

When a child is fostered the local authority remains responsible for them Credit: PA

What sort of children need fostering?

There are a wide variety of reason why children get taken into foster care. Some children will come into care because they have been abused or neglected, others because a family member has become ill or because a parent misuses drugs or alcohol.

Who can foster?

Recently a survey into fostering, carried out by YouGov found that almost a third of people didn't think they would be accepted as foster parents. 4,818 people were questioned and of them 28% felt that, although they would like to become a foster carer, they would be turned away because of their age or martial status.

This isn't the case. Anyone over the age of 18 in England (21 in Scotland) is eligible to become a foster parent.

There are many myths surrounding what it takes to be a foster carer, if you want to find out if you're eligible you can click here to visit the Action for Children website for more information.

You can also find out more information by visiting the Fostering Network website here.

Anyone can foster regardless of their age, marital status or sexual orientation Credit: PA

Where do I go to become a foster carer?

Local authorities are always on the lookout for more people who are willing to become foster parents. If you would like more information on how to become a foster parent you can visit their websites:

  • To become a foster carer in Cumbria click here.
  • To become a foster carer in Dumfries and Galloway click here.
  • To become a foster carer in the Scottish Borders click here.