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Number of children in care reaches highest level in three decades

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According to the latest figures from the Department for Education (DfE), approximately 70,000 children in the UK currently live in care and the number is set to rise, prompting calls for more foster families.

The number is the highest recorded over the course of the last 30 years, with 69,540 children in care as of March 2015, including those who had been fostered and adopted.

Last week, The Fostering Network stated that an additional 9,000 more foster families are required to fulfil the needs of the UK’s care system during 2016.

800 are needed in Scotland, 500 in Wales and 170 in Northern Ireland, but the number is surpassed by the significant rise in demand in England, meaning that a further 7,600 foster families need to be found.

There are numerous reasons why children are placed in the care system, and this can be due to a care order as a result of unsuitable family living arrangements or parental ability to raise a child (as decided by the courts), or other more complex issues.

For example, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children are a growing group that require care, because they do not have a parent or guardian when they arrive in the UK.

The Fostering Network’s chief executive – Kevin Williams – said: “Foster families perform an invaluable duty on behalf of the state, one that really serves the whole community.

“Their work contributes not only to society now, but in the decades that will come as the young people who live in their care grow into independence and in turn become adults who give back to society.

“Foster families give children the opportunity of the childhood they deserve, a childhood that otherwise they may not have had.”