Today we are launching an urgent fostering appeal, asking Bristolians to take on the hugely important role of giving a home to a child in care.
We’re calling on residents across the city to become foster carers following a steady decline in the number of people coming forward to foster with the council. At the same time, the number of children coming into care is continuing to rise.
We now have more than 750 children and young people in care in Bristol but only 353 fostering households in our city through the council. We are incredibly grateful to every single one of them for their support. But, unfortunately, it’s not enough.
Because of the shortage of foster carers and the increase in demand, we need to place around 40 per cent of our children with private fostering agencies, or, in some cases, in children’s homes. Although a necessity, it can sadly lead to sibling groups being separated and children needing to live outside of our city, away from their communities, schools and friends.
That’s why we’re running an urgent appeal for the first three months of 2023, to encourage potential foster carers to come forward and offer local children secure and loving homes.
When we reached out to you in 2020 with an appeal for emergency foster carers – to help us place a high number of children in short-term care during the pandemic – your response was incredible.
It resulted in twice the usual number of enquiries about fostering, leading to an extra 24 households being approved as emergency foster carers.
We need people to step up again as we’re at crisis point. This time we’re again looking for all types of foster carers – from short to long term as well as weekends and short breaks.
Who can foster?
If you have space in your homes and in your lives for a child who desperately needs you, please contact us to find out more about becoming one of our incredible foster carers. All you need is a spare room and to be over 21 years of age.
Foster carers come from every sector of society, income level, ethnic group, religion and sexual orientation.
You don’t need any qualifications to become a foster carer, but it helps if you already have experience with children or caring for people – whether that’s with your own family, childminding, or having worked in a caring profession.
Why foster with us
Bristol is not the only local authority to be facing a critical shortage of foster carers. It’s a national trend experienced in many parts of the country. One possible reason is the increased cost of living we are all facing. That’s why we’re offering a welcome grant of £500 to you, along with a weekly allowance and other benefits, when you start your journey with us as an approved foster carer.
Unlike fostering agencies that are run for profit, all our funding is spent on supporting local children through difficult times, placing them with kind and loving carers in homes where they can feel safe and thrive.
All our foster carers get one-to-one support from a dedicated social worker, as well as training and skills opportunities, and wellbeing support so to be the best possible carers to Bristol children.
We also offer a range of benefits, such as free access to Everyone Active leisure centres and free events, such as theatre trips and social events at parks.
What’s more, when you foster with us, you become part of a wider fostering family through Bristol Foster Carers Association, which links you up to other local foster carers and looked after children, which is a useful support network to draw on.
What it’s really like
Our foster carers tell us that, despite the challenges, fostering is the most rewarding thing they’ve done.
Alex Kear, a bus driver with First Bus, has been fostering with his husband for 11 years. He’s shared with us the impact fostering has had on his life and the lives of the children they’ve welcomed into their family.
Alex told us: “The best bit is seeing children having fun, being relaxed and able to enjoy life which was difficult when living at home.
“It’s a joy to be able to see them progressing at school and achieving good results and making new friends in the fostering community.
“The advice I would give to people considering fostering is to do it. It can be very rewarding to see the children you look after turning difficult corners in their lives that you have supported them through.”
If you’ve been thinking about opening up your home to a child who needs stability, love and support, now is the time to act.
It’s a lot to consider, which is why we recommend contacting our fostering team first for an information pack and an informal chat.
Visit our fostering website to find out more or call Bristol Fostering on 0117 353 4200.