Warning more children could go into care without improved support for families

Marian (left) has fostered around 35 children over 20 years

There are warnings that more children in Wales could go into foster care without improved support, as the impact of coronavirus continues to afflict many families.

The fostering charity TACT Cymru said it welcomed an increased interest in people thinking of fostering but that, without greater support for many families, it was concerned there could be "a spike" in the number of children being put into care.

Andy Elvin, TACT chief executive, said: "What we're worried about coming out of lockdown is a spike in children coming into care...one of the reasons we're worried is the absolute evisceration of support services for families there's been over the past ten years.

"So we're worried there's not enough support for birth parents when things are going poorly, when the going gets tough and there needs to be more support services for children and their families to avoid so many children coming into care."

Shannon, who had been fostered by Marian, said she felt a sense of "belonging" through experiencing foster care

Shannon, who was taken into foster care as a teenager, said she felt part of a family and the experience had a positive impact on her life.

She said: "Instantly as soon as I moved in I finally felt a part of something, like part of the family, which I'd never felt before.

"I had just never experienced that feeling and the feeling of belonging somewhere so, yeah, it is really nice."

Marian, who fostered Shannon and has taken around 35 children into foster care over two decades, said being a foster parent was an incredibly rewarding experience.

She said: "She's (Shannon) blossomed, she's become this lovely independent young woman - who still comes back to us quite often - almost on a daily basis and it's just lovely to see her grow now."

Foster carer Marian said fostering was very rewarding

She added: "(It's) very rewarding. I wouldn't still be doing it if it wasn't.

"Seeing that child grow and the achievements they make...they can't experience pride often in the beginning but when you get a child coming to you, telling you something or showing you something they're taking pride in, you know that's the first rung in the ladder to helping them becoming independent."

Julie Morgan MS, the Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services, said the government was working hard to support families and wanted to go further.

She said: "We are doing our utmost to support families, you can never do enough of anything, I could always say I could do more.

"We are certainly doing an enormous amount and we'd like to do more and we plan to do more and we certainly don't want as many children coming into care as do come."

She added that there are edge of care services available in all of Wales' local authority areas to help prevent children from having to enter care, and that £12.5m of support had been implemented to support vulnerable families.