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Action for Children: 'Parents forced to seek financial help'

One in ten parents in Wales say they're comfortable asking for help with money problems.

The figures come from a survey by Action for Children.

But according to the charity, that's not necessarily good news.

Although it appears encouraging that parents in Wales are more willing to seek out financial advice rather than their counterparts in England, these results reflect the greater need for financial assistance across the nation.

Wales has some of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation in the UK, and we believe that Welsh parents are being forced to seek financial help out of necessity, rather than out of choice.

– Brigitte Gater, Action for Children / Gweithredu dros blant

Parents in Wales least ashamed to ask for financial help

The figures come from charity 'Action for Children' Credit: ITV Wales News

Just 1 out of every 10 parents in Wales feel ashamed asking for help with money problems.

According to a survey by Action for Children, that's less than the UK average, where 1 in 5 feel embarrassed to seek financial help.

The survey of more than 2,000 parents across the UK also found one in three (28%) of parents in Wales had asked for advice about personal finances or debt, compared with one in four (24%) of parents in England.

Despite the results the charity says Wales has some of the highest levels of poverty and deprivation in the UK.

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Children are being 'crushed' by parental problems

Action for Children says more children need support at a time when services are being cut. Credit: PA

Children in Wales are 'feeling crushed' under the pressure of adult problems according to a report by the charity Action for Children. It claims youngsters are struggling to cope with daily life because of severe problems their parents are facing such as job losses, illnesses and family breakdowns.

The charity says more than half (57%) of frontline staff in Wales are seeing children who need more emotional support while services are being reduced due to budget cuts.

The charity runs more than 100 services in Wales and says staff are reporting a deterioration in children's mental health with a fifth (20%) reporting children needing help with self-harming and self-poisoning.

Jan Leightley, Director of Children's Services at Action for Children in Wales, said, "Children are bearing the brunt of problems within families which is having catastrophic effects on their emotional health.They have to cope with problems that even adults are struggling to deal with."

Carer shortage prompts fears of a foster care 'crisis' in Wales

A leading foster care provider has warned that Wales is on course for a fostering crisis.

Action for Children says there's already a shortage of carers here - and the problem's getting worse, because many potential carers don't think that they're eligible to foster.

Its research found that half of people in Wales wrongly think those over the age of 55 can't foster.

36 percent think you can't do it if you live in rented accommodation - and 12 percent believe men can't be the main carer.

Tom Sheldrick has been to meet one man from the Rhondda Valley who's proved that's very much not the case.

Read more: busting the foster caring myths

Charity: 'Myths are preventing people from fostering'

Action for Children has launched the 'Fostering Myth Busting Campaign' today, which aims to dispel the most common myths that prevent people from becoming foster carers.

The charity says it is surprised at the lack of understanding around foster caring in Wales, and that those myths are preventing people from finding out about fostering, and adding to the worsening foster care crisis in Wales.

With these myths preventing people from coming forward, and the public not knowing the true extent of just how many children are currently in care, we are on course for a crisis in Wales. There’s an urgent need to tackle these misconceptions to move children into loving homes so they have the stability they need.

With the UK’s population at an all-time high, sadly the number of children coming into care will continue to rise, and so will the need for carers.

It is estimated that it takes four years from someone thinking they would like to foster to actually picking up the phone and making their initial enquiry. Often the reason behind this delay is because of the misconceptions they have, and their fear of rejection. But this could be prevented by helping people to understand that, in the majority of cases, they can foster and have a lot to offer a young person in care.

– Jason Hughes, Practice Manager at Action for Children's Taith Newydd fostering service in Newport

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Many wrongly believe they can't be a foster carer

Action for Children, a leading foster care provider, found that, in Wales:

  • 50% wrongly think you can't be a carer if you are over 55
  • 36% wrongly think you need to stay in full-time employment to be a carer
  • 36% wrongly think you can't foster if you live in rented accommodation
  • 31% wrongly think you can't be a carer if you are gay
  • 12% wrongly think you can't be the main foster carer if you are a man

2,004 people around the UK were surveyed by Populus between 17-19 July.

The charity has launched an online 'Myth Busting Academy' on its website, to give people more information on who can foster.

Click here to visit Action for Children's Myth Busting Academy

Nine percent of people in Wales don't understand what fostering means, and what rights and responsibilities a carer has.

A child or young person is fostered when they can't live with their own family due to temporary problems they are facing, such as drug and alcohol abuse, or ill health.

Wales 'on course for a crisis' in foster care

Action for Children has launched a campaign to expel some of the myths about foster care. Credit: PA

A foster care charity is warning that "we are on course for a crisis in Wales", because many potential carers are not coming forward as they don't know that they are eligible to foster.

There are currently 3,300 children in foster care in Wales, and a shortage of 600 carers this year alone. Action for Children is concerned the situation will only get worse.

It says that a number of myths - including the fact that half of people wrongly think you can't foster if you are over 55, and 31 per cent wrongly believe you can't be a carer if you are gay - are stopping people from coming forward.

'Emotional neglect is cruelty - not just bad parenting'

Matt Downie, from the charity Action for Children, says it's important to dispel fears that parents or guardians could be criminalised for occasional less-than-perfect parenting.

"Scapegoating, humiliation, consistent rejection, children being forced to witness domestic violence... these things are not just bad parenting. They're cruelty," he told ITV News.

It comes as calls are made for the emotional neglect of children to be made a criminal offence.

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