Last year, more than 24,000 children were taken into care and needed fostering, up 17 per cent on 2008, while the total number of children who are fostered has risen for five years in a row.
The charity is warning that the “alarming” figures highlight the growing pressure on the care system and the scale of the challenge facing fostering services already struggling with a shortage of foster carers.
An estimated 8,750 new foster families are needed across the UK in 2012 alone. The Fostering Network is urging more people to consider becoming foster carers ahead of this year’s Foster Care Fortnight, which starts next Monday (14 May).
Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the network, said: “More than 24,000 children who came into care last year were fostered.
“This figure highlights the overwhelming need for more people to come forward to foster. With more foster families, children in care will have a better chance of finding the stability and security they need to go on and achieve their potential.”
Clare Marshall was in care from the age of two. After being moved around more than 40 times, she lived in a stable long-term foster home.
She said: “I had some tough experiences at the start, but I think it gave me the determination, inspiration and ambition I needed.
“My foster carer, who I now see as my mum, always instilled good values in me and she’s why I’ve been successful and gone on to university. She’s encouraged me to go for everything I want to achieve and has been the biggest inspiration in my life.”
Jim Bond, a foster carer who looks after teenagers, added: “Nearly 20 years ago I decided to give up a career in teaching to become a foster carer, and it is the best decision I could have made.
“I feel proud to have been able to make a difference to the lives of so many children and I would urge others to consider doing the same.”
The charity has launched a new website to provide information to the public about fostering: www.22minutes.org.uk.