Urgent attention must be given to older children who become looked-after, Barnardo’s has warned, as new data reveals high numbers of older children entered care for the first time last year.
The charity issued the warning after government statistics, released this month, revealed 43% of children who entered care last year (12,000) were aged 10 or older. Some were as old as 16 or 17 and, according to analysis by Barnardo’s, 80% of them entered care for the first time.
Speaking on the first day of the charity’s fostering and adoption week 2012, Anne Marie Carrie, Barnardo’s chief executive, said the needs of older children are being forgotten, while there is considerable focus on babies and younger children.
She said she would like to see a broader range of placements in the care system, to support all age groups, and urged more people to consider fostering older children.
“All children deserve a loving home and older children need looking after just as much as infants and babies in order to thrive.
“We know from our experience that older children in care can need extra support. They need carers who can help them overcome emotional and behavioural difficulties, and provide much needed stability,” she said.
She added that the charity had seen many of the older children it works with “blossom into healthy, happy, adults after being placed with the right foster family”.
Barnardo’s also highlighted the shortage of foster families across the UK and said at least 8,750 new foster families need to be found within the next 12 months.