Leading fostering agency asks families to step forward to meet growing need
The number of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) referred to a national fostering agency since May 2015 has risen to 275 in three months, almost five times as many as the same period in 2014 (56).
In addition, the number of UASC referrals in July 2015 is more than double that of May 2015.
Compass Fostering is a national fostering agency. It receives referrals from Local Authorities seeking to place children with foster families. The agency recorded:
• 140 referrals during July 2015, compared to 34 in July 2014
• 75 referrals during June 2015, compared to 11 in June 2014
• 60 in May 2015, compared to 11 in May 2014
The youngest child referred for a foster placement with the agency was 12 years old. Most were between the ages of 14 and 16 and were almost exclusively boys: only two children referred for foster care were girls. Their primary countries of origin were Afghanistan, Syria, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Albania, Sudan, Iraq, Somalia, Vietnam and Morocco.
Referrals are made across the UK, but most commonly come from London, Kent, West Sussex and the West Midlands.
Bernie Gibson, Managing Director of Compass, explained that often the children were found abandoned on motorways after being smuggled into the country. She highlighted the need for more families to help meet the need for UASC fostering.
“Whatever the politics of the situation, the welfare and rights of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children have to come first.
“They are particularly vulnerable, arriving here alone, unable to speak English and often having experienced a trauma in their past and on their journeys.
“A number of our foster carers speak many languages, which can be really helpful in terms of giving care and support to a newly-arrived child. However, we always need more families to step forward to foster.
“Our carers are never made to feel that they have to cope with any difficulties alone. They have access to round-the-clock support and receive frequent visits from our team of highly experienced social workers”, she said.
Carers also receive a generous allowance (from £20,000 to £40,000 per year depending on individual needs and other circumstances) for every night that a child or young person lives in their home. “The allowance enables carers to fully meet the needs and expenses of the child or young person placed,” Bernie explained.
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