Why is Foster Care Needed?

Why is Foster Care Needed?

There are well over 72,000 looked after children in England alone. Take the whole of the UK into consideration and the figures rise even further. Foster care provides the backbone of care for these children.

The number of children in foster care is more concerning when we look at other official statistics. These numbers have been steadily increasing for the last decade. On the face of it, the number of approved foster places has been increasing, however, the number of places unavailable to foster children is increasing at a faster pace. The numbers just don’t match up. The number of children coming into care, needing foster care, is increasing faster than we can meet demand.

When we consider why foster care is essential for these children, we can gain a greater urgency over considering the impact.

Why Foster Care is Needed

Children come in to care for a wide variety of reasons. The reasons are as diverse as children themselves. However, the reason why foster care is needed generally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Abuse: This is likely what most people think of when considering children in care. Children who have been victims of physical, sexual or emotional abuse require protection and a safe home.
  • Neglect: Children who have not had their basic needs met, such as food, clean living, or medical care.
  • Parental health: When parents are unable to care for their children, either temporarily or long-term, due to their own ill health or disability.
  • Imprisonment: Children of parents who are incarcerated come into the care system if there are no other suitable family members who can care for them.
  • Death and bereavement: Despite efforts to find a suitable home within the family, the death of a close parent or relative can result in care being required for a child.
  • Drug or alcohol abuse: If a child is not safe due to the exposure and risks of parental drug and alcohol use they will be brought in to the care system. This may be temporarily whilst the parent receives help to resolve their addiction.
  • Complex needs and respite: Children with disabilities and complex needs may come into the care system on a permanent or short-term basis. This is to adequately meet their needs and provide respite for their birth family if they are unable to offer the care needed.
  • Young offending, truancy and child’s choices: A court may determine that a child would be better placed in foster care than the family home.

These reasons explain why a child comes in to care, but they don’t explain why it is of paramount importance that the care is provided in the form of a foster placement.

All the categories of looked after children, which are outlined above, demonstrate a crisis. Foster care is predominantly needed to provide a safe and stable transition to longer-term care (which may also be a long-term foster placement).

Children coming from a family in crisis – whatever the cause– require care, kindness and a home environment to transition to a more stable future. They have all experienced loss of some form. Family-based foster care is, therefore, an incredibly effective way of providing for these vulnerable children and young people. The safe and nurturing environment available through foster care is simply not possible in other care arrangements.

Helping Vulnerable Children across the UK Access Foster Care

Some foster care placements are in particularly short supply. Carers for sibling groups, teenagers and children with disabilities or behavioural difficulties are desperately needed.

Foster carers considering providing homes for these groups need support, advice and training to meet the needs of these vulnerable children.

*This is a collaboratiove post*

Featured image source Africa Studio/Shutterstock



  1. Susan Smith October 12, 2018 / 7:55 am

    Its such a shame, all these children need love and a home, but i think the rules of fostering are a tad extreme, i know a couple who wanted to foster, but because of their weight and the fact the husband smoked, they were refused, but they would of made the perfect parents to any child, because of weight issues and smoking doesnt take away the love they could give a child

  2. Kim Carberry October 12, 2018 / 8:02 pm

    Years and years ago, just after I left home my parents were foster parents. They had so many children over the years and each and every one of them were lovely. They were emergency foster carers so only had children for a month at the most until they were moved to somewhere more permanent. I remember one lad who kept coming back. He was at at boarding school and during the school holidays he went to my mam and dad. He was supposedly a “problem child” but he was nothing but lovely. x
    Kim Carberry recently posted…This week my Word of the Week is: Bits. #WotWMy Profile

  3. Malin October 14, 2018 / 8:24 pm

    This is a tough subject for me… My husband was fostered and wasn’t treated well by his first foster family. And I’m aware of some families which are in crisis because they’ve got a child with additional need who displays violent behaviour, and they need help, understanding and support, but when they can’t get that, things get worse and eventually some children then get removed from their homes. They’ve already got loving parents, no foster parents would be needed for those children if there was more understanding for their conditions and more support for their families.
    I realise this is going off on a bit of a tangent from your post, but I hope you don’t mind me venting a different perspective on things x

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