‘Gays, men and over-55s unsure on fostering rules’

MANY people mistakenly believe they would not be allowed to foster children, a charity said as it warned that the UK is facing a shortage of 9,000 foster carers this year.

Tracy Davison and Jenny Godbold, a lesbian couple who wish to become foster carers. Picture: Contributedw

Action for Children wants to dispel the myths surrounding fostering in a bid to encourage more people to think about taking in a child.

Its research found that many members of the public incorrectly believe that a person cannot foster if they live in rented accommodation, are gay, are not in full-time employment, are over 55, or are male.

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The charity said that 96 per cent of those asked did not know how many children are currently in care – around 91,000 in the UK.

With the predicted shortfall of carers, as a result of people leaving the profession and the rise of children going into the system, the organisation is concerned that the situation will only get worse.

The charity, which places children with foster families, asked more than 2,000 people if they would consider fostering and if they knew who can foster.

Darren Johnson, operational director – fostering, adoption and permanency UK at Action for Children, said: “With myths preventing people from coming forward, and the public not knowing the true extent of just how many children are currently in care, we are on course for a crisis.

“There is an urgent need to tackle these misconceptions to move children into loving homes so they have the stability they need.

“With the UK’s population at an all-time high, sadly the number of children coming into care will continue to rise, and so will the need for carers.”

Tracy Davison and Jenny Godbold were one of the first same sex couples to foster in Scotland.

Ms Davison said: “Anyone can foster and I would say that it has been the best job I have ever done. Nobody should be afraid, as long as you can provide a safe, secure and loving environment it really is worth it.

“Having foster children is like having your own child – you have to have an open heart and each child is unique.

“Remember what they have gone through as you need to help them overcome those difficulties.

“It’s about children at the end of the day; as adults we need to be strong and help them, don’t let your incorrect beliefs be a barrier.”

Action for Children has launched a Fostering Myth Busting Academy on its website, which it hopes will help people understand fostering better and help them take the first step to opening up their home to a child in need.