Foster care recruitment: letter to public

Letter from Minister for Children and Young People asking Scottish public to consider fostering.

To: members of the public in Scotland 
From: Minister for Children and Young People Clare Haughey

Foster Care Recruitment in Scotland

I am reaching out to you during Foster Care Fortnight to ask you to think about whether you have ever considered that fostering could be for you?

It is vital that each and every child and young person in Scotland grows up to feel loved, safe and respected, as we have set out in The Promise. I am determined to make sure that children and young people who are cared for away from home, have the opportunity to feel part of a nurturing, supportive family environment.

Around a third of children in Scotland, who are not able to safely live at home, are cared for in fostering families. Unfortunately, there are more children who need this chance. Some need care for just a short time, some need regular periods of care and some need to be fostered throughout their childhood. And there are also some who are far away from their families and everything they have known, having travelled alone from other countries. Every child has a different story and a different fostering need. Current estimates suggest that there is a need for a further 500 fostering families in Scotland. Could that be you?

Why foster

Fostering is an amazing experience. I know this because I grew up in a family that fostered. I fully appreciate the positive benefits of what a loving fostering environment can do to improve the lives of children and young people. Here’s what some of our young people with care experience had to say about fostering:  

“I have been with my current foster carers for 10 years and they have changed my life more than they’ll ever fully realise.”

“Being in care is part of my identity, so it shouldn’t be something I feel bad or ashamed about. Becoming part of a foster family was the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Who can become a foster carer

I know how generous the people of Scotland have been in opening their homes to Ukrainian families recently, so I am asking you to consider what you can do to support children within your own communities, who also need your help.

We are looking for new foster carers that come from a variety of backgrounds and have different life experiences, skills and qualities to help meet the individual needs of children and young people. You don’t need specific qualifications as you will be given training and support to help you. What is important, is that you can support, nurture and care for children who cannot live with their own families. In particular there is a need for fostering families for children and young people with additional care needs, teenagers, and sibling groups.

“Our young lady came saying she only wanted to stay for 6 months, aged 13, she stayed to 21, gained qualifications and a secure job. To support her to move to her own home and watch her thrive was the best thing we have ever done.”  

“I am a family and friends carer for my friend who is a full time foster carer. The value that the children have brought into my life, and the support and consistency I have been able to give them is huge.”

Common myths and worries about fostering

There are many myths surrounding fostering, meaning that many people rule themselves out unnecessarily. The Fostering Network, the UK’s leading foster care charity, have taken the time to bust some of these myths on Fostering Network website and you will find many other useful resources there too.

Taking the next steps to fostering

I know that deciding to  foster is a big step - research tells us that many people consider fostering for years before applying. You can contact your local authority or search on The Fostering Network’s website to find a fostering service near you. When you make contact with the agency, they will explain the process involved, likely timescales and detail the checks and information required for assessment.

The humanitarian crisis in Ukraine is on all our minds. Should we start to see unaccompanied children arriving in Scotland as a result of the tragic events there, we have in place a process open to registered professionals already checked and working in the care or education sector to shorten the fostering assessment process. If you are in this category please let the agency you speak to know.

Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and I hope it has encouraged you to think carefully about whether you could provide the love and stability that some of Scotland’s children and young people need.

I understand that fostering is not for everyone, but it could be for you.

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