MORE than a quarter of children in care in the UK have been shuttled between foster carers twice or more in the past year, and some children have moved homes up to seven times in 12 months, new figures released from local authorities suggest.
Figures from all local authorities in the UK were obtained through a Freedom of Information request by the charity Action for Children, the children’s charity of the Methodist Church. It found that of the 51,000 children in care, nearly 10,000 had moved between foster placements at least twice in a year. Just under 1000 had been with four different families, and 166 children had been moved between seven different homes.
The charity warns that repeated moves affect children’s behaviour, as well as their emotional and mental health.
Lauren, now aged 20 and studying at university, went into foster care at the age of four. She was moved several times — an experience she found “overwhelming” — until she found a stable placement with Action for Children foster carers at the age of 11. Moving in with her foster parents, Derrick and Sue, gave her confidence to explore her talents for singing and gymnastics.
She said: ““I am the woman I am today because of Derrick and Sue. They are always there for advice, [they] helped me grow in confidence, and helped me become independent. “
The chief executive of Action for Children, Sir Tony Hawkhead, said: “We know of children as young as four who have had to move three times in less than a year before finding a stable family home. For children in care, moving home means more than fitting into a new place: it means leaving behind family, friends, school, and everything that is familiar to start over again.
“It is impossible to imagine what this must be like for a child or young person, who has already had the toughest start in life, to have to move several times a year until they find the right foster carer.
“Unfortunately, many children in foster care have experienced neglect or abuse, and as a result have to move from their family home so that they are placed with a carer who can provide them with the stability, love, and care they need. That’s why we urgently need more dedicated foster carers.”