Hundreds of children find new homes in Nottinghamshire

Hundreds of children were being looked after by foster families in Nottinghamshire last year, figures show, as an annual campaign to raise awareness of the value of fostering begins.

By Will Grimond
Thursday, 12th May 2022, 8:55 am

Each year, children's charity the Fostering Network organises Foster Care Fortnight, celebrating the work of the UK’s foster carers and raising the profile of fostering across the country.

Department for Education figures show there were 674 fostered children in Nottinghamshire at the end of March 2021, the highest number for at least a decade.

Separate figures from Ofsted, which cover placements organised by local authority, show about 375 households offered to foster – including about 95 newly-approved households in the latest year.

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There were some 57,330 children receiving foster care across England as of the end of March 2021.

About a third of all fostering households in England are found by independent fostering agencies, which are not included in Ofsted's figures.

Coun Tracey Taylor, of Nottinghamshire Council, said: “In Nottinghamshire, we currently have 232 local children being looked after by foster carers in the county. But more are waiting.

“Our foster carers do an amazing job taking care of vulnerable babies, children, and teenagers, but we need more carers to ensure that every child in need can have a safe, loving, and stable home environment.

“We’re really hoping that more people will consider becoming part of our wonderful fostering community.”

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Children’s charities have used Foster Care Fortnight to talk about the positive impacts of fostering on both children and carers.

Andy Elvin, chief executive officer of the Adolescent and Children’s Trust, an organisation which matches children with placements, said foster parents describe the experience as ‘incredibly rewarding’.

However, although there were more than 7,000 vacant places across England in March 2021, including about 210 in Nottinghamshire, Mr Elvin warns the charity has been struggling to find homes for teenagers in particular.

He said: “There is a misconception teenagers in foster care are difficult, that they are in care because of something they have done, but this is not the case.

“Like all children in foster care, regardless of their age, teenagers are in need of a safe, secure home and carers who can see their potential and help them to achieve it.”

There were some 57,330 children receiving foster care across England as of the end of March 2021.

Across the country, about 6,070 households were approved by local authorities to foster in the year to March 2021, but the Fostering Network estimates close to 8,000 more fostering families are needed, including 576 in the East Midlands alone.

Kevin Williams, chief executive, says people should not be dissuaded from fostering by thinking they aren’t the right fit for it.

He said: “If you have ever considered fostering, now is the time to get in touch with your local fostering service and find out more.

“The fostering community is open to people from all walks of life and backgrounds: you can become a foster carer no matter your age, gender, relationship status or sexual orientation.

“Foster carers are the bedrock of children’s social care. They are vital in our society and our young people rely on their care, dedication, passion and skills to support them when they need it most.”