Almost two dozen Wigan households apply to become foster carers

Almost two dozen households in Wigan applied to become foster carers in a year, new figures show.

The number of people applying has steadily fallen over the last five years, including a significant drop last year.

Foster Care Fortnight, which runs until May 28, is focused on "Fostering Communities" and aims to highlight the need for more foster carers.

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The latest Ofsted figures show 8,280 households in England applied to become foster carers in the year to March 2022 – the lowest figure in the last five years and a drop of 26 per cent from 2020-21.

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Foster care places can be local authority placements, organised and managed by councils, or those delivered by independent fostering agencies, such as charities and organisations that place children with approved families.

For local authority-managed foster care placements, the number of approved households in the year fell by 18 per cent from 2020-21, with just 2,075 approved across England. Of these, 15 were in Wigan. Figures are rounded to the nearest five.

Mervyn Erskine, chairman of trustees at The Fostering Network, said: "We can’t lose sight of the fact we urgently need more foster carers to come forward to care for children locally.

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"When a child comes into care needing a foster home, it is essential they can live with a foster carer who can meet their individual needs, in the area they belong – ultimately, everything they need to be the absolute best version of themselves."

The figures also show approximately 15 applications were approved in Wigan in the year to March 2022, though some were submitted in previous years.

It means around 185 total households were offering foster care placements – down from 195 in 2018.

Yvette Stanley, Ofsted's national director of regulation and social care, said: "Foster carers make such a difference to children’s lives by providing stable and loving homes. So it’s a real concern that there are not nearly enough foster carers available for the growing number of children needing care.

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"Getting foster-care matches right is central to ensuring children’s individual needs are met. However, the shortage of foster carers makes good matching far more difficult and, in some cases, can leave children without the care they need."

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