Dozens more children in foster care across Suffolk compared to 2015 but more foster carers still needed
The number of children in foster care across Suffolk has risen sharply since at least 2015, according to latest figures.
With reports across England predicting the number of children expected to be in care by 2025 is 100,000 – an increase of more than a third within just one decade - local authorities are under increased pressure to find adequate care for vulnerable children.
Across Suffolk the amount of children in care has risen from 795 in 2015 to 945 in 2021.
One of the challenges facing Suffolk County Council is a lack of foster carers available.
According to Mick Jillions from Little Acorns, a private foster care service in Haverhill, during the pandemic the number of child referrals to the agency fell by half, but more than doubled when restrictions eased.
"We currently have placements for around 30 children but we are now receiving around 100 referrals a day," said Mick.
One foster carer described the benefits of providing a home for vulnerable children.
"It's the most exhausting role I have ever undertaken but also the most positive and giving role," said Louise, who has been a foster carer for 13 years.
According to the government, a foster carer is given a minimum of £134 to £235 per week, with the total amount dependent on factors such as where you live, the child’s age and your skills and experience.
Local authorities in England will spend £3.6bn a year more keeping children in care in 2025 compared with 2015.
Stephen Burroughes, Deputy Cabinet Member with responsibility for Fostering and Adoption said: "The majority of children entering care at present are babies and adolescents. Children and young people are staying longer in care partly because we are seeking long term solutions for them and there have been delays in the family court process."
Prior to becoming a carer a social worker will visit you to assess your suitability for the role.
During the assessment, questions will be asked regarding your personality, hobbies and the property you live in.
Many believe they are ineligible to become a carer due to numerous myths such as that you have to own your own home or that members of the LGBT community are unable to foster - both are untrue.
Some worry their biological children may struggle to accept the presence of other young people into their homes, however, support is offered through a range of outlets including social care workers and emotional support networks for birth children.
There are a range of types of foster carers from those that have children full time to those that provide emergency and respite care.
For more information on becoming a foster carer, visit www.suffolk.gov.uk/fostering