Urgent need for more foster carers in Jersey

More foster carers are "urgently needed" in Jersey.

The government says the number of children "on the edge of care" has risen but there are nowhere near enough foster carers on the island to help.

Andrew Keen, from the island's fostering and adoption service, said: "We have seen mental health and in adults and children deteriorate this has meant an increase in pressures on families and has resulted in children and young people coming into care."

"We have very little provision at the moment so if we had a large family and they needed accommodation and foster care, we would find that difficult to provide."

There are 74 young people in care in Jersey and just 48 foster families, according to figures published in October 2021.

Minister for Children and Education, Deputy Scott Wickenden, added: "We urgently need more people to come forward to be foster carers, especially for short-term foster placements. As we expected, we've seen the demand for care increase as the pressures of Covid-19 are being felt by families."

Andrew Keen feels the coronavirus pandemic has increased pressure on vulnerable families in Jersey. Credit: ITV Channel TV

As well as launching a major new recruitment drive, the government is working with a Jersey research agency to try and understand the barriers stopping more families signing up to foster.

Andrew Keen believes some of the barriers are to do with accommodation and the cost of living. He said: "The barriers are finance, where people can't just give up a job and foster because, as we know, Jersey is quite an expensive place to live."

Sarah Cohen, who has been a foster carer in Jersey for five years, said: "When I asked my foster child why they think people should foster, the reply was to give a child a home. For me, it's as simple as that."

"There are too many children in Jersey needing a family. I was lucky enough to come from a loving one and now all my children have grown up, I knew I wanted to give something back."

"The satisfaction of watching a baby meet all its milestones, or when a youngster stops offending or going missing and you can help get them back into school is incredibly rewarding."