Local authorities must recognise and respect the role of male carers if they are to drive recruitment forward and give vulnerable children positive role models, Robert Tapsfield, chief executive of the Fostering Network, said today.
At the charity Men as Foster Carers’ conference, Tapsfield urged councils to give male foster carers “equal status” to women, rather than overlooking them in discussions and decisions.
Joe Griffiths, a male foster carer from Caerphilly, Wales, said: ‘When I started fostering eight years ago the social worker would often ring up and ask to speak to my wife, when I could have dealt with the call just as well. There was a sense that I was less important and that was very isolating.”
However, research carried out last year by the children’s charity NCH found that men did not volunteer with children and young people because they feared being labelled a paedophile.
Tapsfield said: “Attitudes towards men and child care are changing – more and more men are voting with their feet and deciding to stay at home to play a part in the daily care of their own children. The challenge is to make sure that in a professional setting, male foster carers are as empowered as the young fathers of today in taking an equal role in caring for children, rather than being made to feel they are second best.”