Bristol faces foster care crisis as the number people coming forward to care falls

  • Watch Courtney Sargent's report

A campaign has been launched to try and increase the number of foster carers in Bristol.

The demand for foster carers is continuing to rise. In Bristol, there are more than 750 children and young people in care but only 353 households foster with Bristol City Council.

This means the local authority needs to place around 40 per cent of children with private fostering agencies or in children’s homes, which can lead to sibling groups being separated and children living outside the city.

Cassidy Westlake is one of those lucky children who managed to find a foster carer and has been in care since the age of seven.

Cassidy has been in care for 12 years Credit: Family Handout

Cassidy told ITV News West Country: "Sadly my mum couldn't look after me properly so unfortunately she got me taken away.

"I was with a couple for the first six to eight months and then I was with another family for around nine years and I've been with my foster carer now, Julie, for around two years".

She is one of thousands of children who have been impacted by having a foster career but there are currently more than 750 children still waiting to find theirs.

"The children in our care deserve a safe and secure home"

Councillor Asher Craig, Deputy Mayor of Bristol with responsibility for Children’s Services, said: "The children in our care deserve a safe and secure home where they can be loved and supported as they grow up.

"You don’t need any specific qualifications to become a foster carer, but it helps if you already have experience with children or caring for people - whether that’s with your own family, childminding, or having worked in a caring profession.

"All our foster carers get one-to-one support from a dedicated social worker, as well as training and skills opportunities, and a range of other benefits."

There are many different ways in which you can provide support as a foster carer and it doesn't just have to be full-time care.

That is one option but for people who aren't able to provide full-time care you could also provide weekend care or short-term respite care which could be as simple as taking a child for a day trip.

Alex Taylor provides short-term respite care and loves to see the people she cares for and seeing how they are getting on.

She said: "I quite often look after newly arrived asylum seekers, the first first, ten days they are in the country and it's amazing a year later to see how they are doing with their English, or how they are doing in college.

"Equally when I look after British children and I see them with another carer or with mum it feels so good to see how far they've come along."

Marvin Rees: "Our current foster carers are doing an incredible job"

Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said: “We’re calling on our residents to help make a difference to the children in care who need a home in Bristol.

"The community spirit in our city is unbelievable and I am confident enough people will come forward to offer a caring, loving home.

"This is what happened during the pandemic when an extra 24 households were approved as short-term foster carers following our emergency appeal.

"We need people to step up again as we’re at a crisis point. Our current foster carers are doing an incredible job but, put simply, there aren’t enough of them.

"Sadly, we are not the only local authority facing a critical shortage of foster carers. It’s a national trend, which could be exacerbated by the cost of living crisis.

"That’s why we’re offering a welcome grant of £500 to every new foster carer along with their weekly allowance and other benefits."