FOSTERING: Children away from their own homes need caring and loving foster families

By Lucy Ashton

Foster Caring is in the middle of a parenting recruitment crisis, MSPs were told on Thursday.
SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson yesterday asked First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to do something about that urgently.
He asked  her what action the Scottish Government is taking to encourage people to become foster carers, following reports that only 40 of 400 children referred to a well known fostering service.

Nicola Sturgeon told him: “We are committed to ensuring that children and young people who are looked after away from their own families and homes are provided with caring and loving foster families.

“Although responsibility for recruiting sufficient foster carers lies with local authorities, we are aware that the pandemic and the cost of living crisis have put additional pressure on foster carer capacity. Of course, that is compounded by some of the wider pressures facing the social work sector, and we are determined to address that.

“That is why we are working with key national and local partners, including the third sector, to identify action that we can take collectively now and in the future to improve the situation.

“The Scottish Government also provides £145,000 each year to the fostering network to raise the profile of foster caring and encourage the recruitment of new carers, as well as providing wider advice and support.”

Kenneth Gibson told MSPs : “Unfortunately, 691 children and young people are waiting for foster care—up from 461 in 12 months. Over the past year, many Scots have welcomed Ukrainian families fleeing war, partly due to Scotland’s call for volunteers campaign.”

He asked: “Will the First Minister consider launching a renewed drive to encourage more potential foster carers to come forward and help to ensure that children and young people who are waiting to be fostered can be placed in safe, stable and loving homes as soon as possible?”

Nicola Sturgeon said: “We will give consideration to that. I take this opportunity to thank the people who have opened up their homes to Ukrainian families in the past months.

“That is testimony to the welcoming nature of people who call Scotland home.

“There are, of course, important differences between supporting Ukrainian families and fostering children who might have complex needs and who require day-to-day care-giving, including, for example, supporting contact with their birth families.

“However, I encourage anyone who is thinking about fostering to speak to their local authority or a fostering organisation. Fostering brings great benefits not only to children—that is the most important consideration—but to foster families.

“We will certainly consider all options that might have the potential to improve the lives of children with care experience, and I will ask officials to work with stakeholders and caregivers to consider the possibility of having a national communication campaign and its potential to recruit more foster carers.”

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