A ‘STATE of emergency’ has been declared by a children’s charity as the number of children needing foster care in the West Midlands rose by 40 per cent during the Coronavirus pandemic.
New figures from Barnardo’s reveal there were 584 referrals to the charity’s fostering services in the region between March and April, up from 418 for the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile the number of enquiries from people looking to become foster parents for the charity fell from 47 to 19 – a dramatic 60 per cent drop.
Barnardo’s 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 will not be placed with a family.
The charity says the pandemic and lockdown have 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.
Barnardo’s believes Covid-19 and uncertainty about the future has resulted in a drop in enquiries being made to the charity from potential foster parents.
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 loving foster families, who provide the vital love and support children need to thrive.
“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.”
Foster carers will be supported every step of the way by Barnardo’s, and will also be eligible for financial support including carers’ allowance.
Visit www.barnardos.org.uk/foster or call 0800 0277 280 for more information.