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As seen on the news: fostering is in crisis. How can you help?

Wednesday 01 November 2023

If you heard Fatima Whitbread talking about fostering recently, you were probably moved by the story of her own childhood spent in care homes, as well as her admiration for the brilliant work that foster carers do.

Along with poet and author Lemn Sissay and radio presenter Pandora Christie, Fatima is supporting our drive to recruit more people into fostering. On 26th October, she joined our Chief Executive, Steve Christie, on a ‘radio takeover’.

Their message was clear: there aren’t nearly enough foster carers – and that this shortfall might be partly because people assume they’re not suitable due to their age, relationship status, career, or disability, among other things.

People assume they’re not suitable due to their age, relationship status, career, or disability… Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nothing could be further from the truth – take it from us:  as the largest independent fostering agency in the UK, our 3,000 foster carers are a truly diverse group of people.

  • Our youngest foster carers are in their mid-20s and our oldest is in her 80s.
  • We have single, married, divorced and blended family and LGBTQ+ foster carers.
  • Some of our foster carers work outside the home, part time or full time.
  • A number of our foster carers have a long-term condition or disability.
  • Some have children of their own, of all ages; others do not.
  • Dogs and cats are common in fostering families, along with more exotic pets too.

Councils’ data (responding to our Freedom of Information request) shows that 60% had experienced a surge in young people going into care in the last 12 months – children who can’t live at home through no fault of their own. Tragically, there are simply not enough foster carers available to take them in, with some areas of the country facing a chronic shortage.

“Foster carers … have a unique chance to make a real difference to a child’s life”

– Fatima Whitbread

Our campaign

The original plan was that Steve and Fatima – individually and together – would spend dawn to dusk giving interviews to local and national radio stations.

In fact, the story jumped to TV very quickly, and to online and print news and social channels too. Our hardworking ambassadors gave more than 30 radio and TV interviews, and fuelled around 200 news articles including on ITV News, The Independent, Evening Standard, BBC News and Sky Sports News.

“Anyone who has room in their home and their heart could be a foster carer, and most of our foster carers say that fostering is the best thing they have ever done”

– Steve Christie, Chief Executive

What can I do?

The UK has a national shortage of around 10,500 foster parents and collectively, we need to do everything we can to recruit more.

  • If you already foster with us, maybe you know a family member, friend or colleague – who would make a good foster carer? Share this article with them – and remember, we’re offering a £1,500 referral fee.
  • If you’re fostering with another agency and thinking of leaving the sector, please reconsider. You can transfer to another fostering agency, even with your foster child, to one that will be a better fit to your needs.
  • If you’re thinking of becoming a foster carer and wondering about your next step, talk to one of our fostering advisors. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have about fostering and your own circumstances – probably busting a lot of myths.

Our local fostering agencies work with local authorities in every region of the UK to meet growing demand for all types of fostering. Can you become a foster carer and make a difference to a child’s future? We offer a generous fostering allowance, with exclusive perks and benefits, free training (including specialisms) and exceptional support from your local team.




Find out if you could be a foster carer
Find out if you could be a foster carer
In a few simple questions, you’ll know if you’re suitable to apply to become a foster carer.