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Could you foster?

There are now more children than ever coming into care, with almost 6,000 more in care on any one day now than there were in 2007. Around two-fifths of the children in care are aged 11 to 15, and finding people with the right skills to look after teenagers is now the top priority for fostering services.

Fostering provides a safe, secure and nurturing family environment, either short- or long-term, and allows children to keep in contact with their own families if they wish.

Children come into care for a whole range of reasons, including a family member’s short-term illness or a parent’s depression or drug or alcohol misuse. Some children may have been abused or neglected. Foster carers can give families a chance to sort out their problems by providing children with a home and supportive family for as long as they need.

When a child is taken into care, the local authority (or health and social care (HSC) trust in Northern Ireland) becomes responsible for his or her welfare. Social workers then work with families to make the home a safe place for a child – with the aim that children and parents can be reunited.

What is Fostering?
Fostering is a way of offering children and young people a home while their own family is unable to look after them.

About 70 percent of children in care in the UK live with foster families. Foster carers are child care experts working alongside a team of professionals providing children with the highest standard of care.

Fostering is not easy; but it offers the opportunity to make a huge difference to the lives of the children who need it. Fostering can be a very rewarding experience.

Fostering is often a temporary arrangement, and many fostered children return to their own families. Children who cannot return home but still want to stay in touch with their families often live in long-term foster care.

How is it different from adoption?

Adoption is where a new family is provided for children who can no longer live with their own family. An adoption order transfers the child's legal relationship from their birth family to the new adoptive family.

Adoption is the best option for a minority of children, with around 4,000 children needing adoptive families each year. However, the vast majority of children in care do not need a new family, but rather to be given the highest standard of care until they can return to their own family or move on elsewhere.

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