Barnardo’s Cymru has seen a 45% surge in the number of children it has been asked to find foster families for in Wales during the coronavirus pandemic.
At the same time, the number of people approaching the charity to become foster parents in Wales has halved compared to the same period last year.
From March 1st – April 23rd 2020, there were 140 referrals to Barnardo’s Cymru fostering service in Wales, up from 96 for the same period in 2019. Meanwhile the number of enquiries from people looking to become foster parents for the charity fell from 39 to just 19, a fall of 51%.
Barnardo’s Cymru says this has created a ‘state of emergency’ as children who may have experienced abuse and neglect wait for places with loving foster families. Without more potential foster carers coming forward, hundreds of children referred to Barnardo’s across the UK will not be placed with a family. The figure for children looking for foster care across England, Wales and Northern Ireland has risen from 1,629 to 2,349, up 44%, while enquiries from potential adopters is down 47% from 302 to 161.
The UK’s leading children’s charity believes that the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has increased pressure on vulnerable families, with job losses, deepening poverty and worsening mental health all leading to family breakdown.
Children have also been in lockdown in homes where domestic abuse and sexual abuse are taking place. These pressures will likely impact more families as the crisis continues.
At the same time Barnardo’s believes that the change in circumstances experienced by many because of COVID-19 and uncertainty about the future has resulted in a drop in enquiries being made to the charity from people looking to foster.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said:
“The Coronavirus pandemic has hit vulnerable families the hardest, with many reaching crisis point. This has created a state of emergency, as more children than ever need a safe and loving foster family, while fewer adults are coming forward as potential foster carers.
“Barnardo’s has over 100 years’ experience bringing vulnerable children together with foster families, who provide the vital love and support children need to thrive. If you become a foster carer with Barnardo’s we will support you every step of the way with training and a dedicated social worker. You’ll also receive financial support, including a carer’s allowance.
“Today, there are hundreds of children who have been referred to Barnardo’s and are waiting to be placed with a foster family. If you’re over 21, have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child in need, please do consider getting in touch today.”
Barnardo’s welcomes foster carers from all walks of life, including single people, those from the LGBTQ+ community and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.
To find out more about fostering with Barnardo’s, go to https://www.barnardos.org.uk/foster or call 0800 0277 280.