Wigan bucks trend amid concern for foster care during pandemic
Children’s charity Barnardo’s raised concerns that the number of youngsters needing foster care in the North West has risen by 48 per cent during the pandemic, while the number of people looking to become foster parents plummeted by nearly half.
It said this had created a “state of emergency” as children who may have experienced abuse and neglect may have to wait for places with loving foster families.
But Wigan Council said more people in the borough were actually interested in becoming foster carers.
It carried out 17 initial virtual visits in May, compared with nine in April, 25 potential carers were in assessment at stage one and 15 were in assessment at stage two.
It did not have figures available on the number of children needing foster care.
Eleni Ioannides, interim director of children’s services at the council, said: “Ensuring our children in care are placed in welcoming, loving homes remains a key priority for us.
“The coronavirus pandemic has placed an increased pressure on our fostering service, with some carers needing to shield or isolate and therefore unable to accept new placements.
“However, we have seen an increase in people enquiring to be foster carers during this time and although this is very positive, we are keen to hear from more people now as we look to recover from Covid-19.
“At the beginning of lockdown, we quickly adapted the services so we could continue to support existing foster carers and also take new enquiries from those wanting to help our children.
“Our team has worked tirelessly to ensure the same standard of service, care and support can be delivered borough-wide despite these unprecedented times.”
From March 1 to April 23, 585 referrals for foster care were made to Barnardo’s North West Fostering Service, up from 395 for the same period in 2019.
Meanwhile, the number of inquiries from people looking to become foster parents fell by 46 per cent, from 39 to 21.
This picture was replicated across Barnardo’s fostering services in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The charity believes the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown has increased pressure on vulnerable families.
Rebecca Quigley, operations manager for Barnardo’s North West Fostering Service, 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 is calling on people over 21, who have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child to consider fostering.
A message from the Editorial Director, Gillian Parkinson:
Thank you for reading this story on our website.
But I also have an urgent plea to make of you.
In order for us to continue to provide high quality local news on this free-to-read site and in print, please purchase a copy of our newspaper as well.
With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on our town centres and many of our valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you buying a copy when you pop out for your essential shop or subscribing for delivery.
Our journalists are highly trained by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards anywhere in the world. Our content is universally trusted - as all independent research proves.
As Baroness Barran said in a House of Lords debate this week on the importance of journalists: "Not only are they a trusted source of facts, but they will have a role to play in rallying communities and getting the message across about how we can keep ourselves and our families safe, and protect our NHS. Undoubtedly, they have a critical role."
But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis. In return we will continue to forensically cover the local news - not only the impact of the virus but all the positive and uplifting news happening in these dark days.
We thank all our readers and advertisers for their understanding and support - and we wish YOU all the best in the coming weeks. Keep safe, and follow the Government advice. Thank you.
HOW TO SUBSCRIBE:
You can subscribe for delivery by contacting us at [email protected] or calling us on 0330 4033004 for details of a participating newsagent near you.