Why are foster carers so important?

Wednesday 30 March 2016

For a child, entering the foster care system is often a frightening and stressful experience. Being taken away from the place they once felt safe and being surrounded by strangers in unfamiliar territory, is a terrifying thing to go through. Foster carers provide a safe, loving environment for these vulnerable children. With their love and support, the children in their care quickly adapt and often thrive.

Put simply, foster carers help to make a real difference to vulnerable children in society.

Thousands of children need foster parents

According to The Fostering Network, more than 65,000 children live with around 55,000 foster families across the UK each day. This provision accounts for only 80% of the 83,000 children in care away from home on any one day in the UK. Recently, The Guardian reported a total rise of 28% between 2010 and 2020.

Literally thousands of children are in desperate need of a foster home. Without foster carers, where would these children end up? Most likely, they would be placed into children’s homes, which can be really traumatic for the child. Being placed into a secure home environment is much better for vulnerable children and in turn for society as a whole.

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Examples of how foster children thrive with foster parents

As a foster carer, the difference you can make for the vulnerable children in your care is remarkable. Children thrive when they are shown love, empathy and understanding. The dedication, love and support provided by a foster parent can determine how that child develops from there on out.

  • Siblings Marie and Carol showed violence towards each other and swore a lot. Their school attendance was poor. Both girls were underweight and knew little about personal hygiene. Their foster carers showed them patience, affection and discipline, and the girls transformed as they learned how to thrive in their new home. They have been with the same carers ever since.
  • Jamie had become involved with gang culture and was dealing drugs – until he was hospitalised after a knife attack. Liz and Steve helped Jamie stay in education and to maintain contact with his family. He now has paid work with a youth centre, where he had previously been volunteering. He has given talks to youth groups around London and is looking to apply to universities.
  • Kevin stayed with the same foster parents for more than two years while adoptive parents were sought for him. His foster parents did not know how long this search would take, so they threw themselves into doing everything they could for the little boy. His behaviour was initially challenging but it was very rewarding when they started to see real changes in him. They also played an essential role in helping Kevin begin to trust and form relationships with his new parents.

You can read more heartwarming examples in our carer stories section.

Help vulnerable children to grow into healthy, happy individuals

No matter how long a foster child remains in care, it provides them with support, love and security that helps to shape their future. A foster home reduces the feeling of abandonment and shows they are cared for. The difference this can make as they enter their adult lives is amazing. Children need love in order to flourish. Without foster carers, vulnerable children could end up making bad choices and getting into worse situations.

The work that foster carers do within society, really does make a difference. Not only that, but it’s a rewarding job that works both ways. It doesn’t just make a difference to the children, it also changes the life of the carer too. Seeing a child start to achieve things because they are happy and content despite the things they have been through is extremely humbling for a foster parent.

With thousands of children still in need of a loving foster home in the UK, more foster carers are desperately required. Do you think you have what it takes to take on this important role? Discover more about why you should consider fostering, or contact us now.

The statistics in this 2016 story were updated in October 2020 to reflect current fostering data.