The need for more foster carers is widely known however why do so many foster carers have vacancies after they have been approved? This is because the lengths of placements is sometimes unpredictable and children in care may be moved to others placements that are deemed more helpful for them.
They may also return to their birth families if that environment becomes the best environment for them in time. Although it is possible for foster carers to have a placement that lasts for months or years at a time, it must be remembered that, the time a young person spends in placement, is dependent on the needs of that child and what is best for him or her at that particular time. Foster carers too, may need a break from fostering for different reasons, including personal, family related issues or even to move house or travel abroad.
Approved foster carers may become unavailable to facilitate fostering for a specific length of time, although they remain registered with a fostering body. Foster carers then must be prepared for when a placement ends or if they have not been given a placement for some time. This can be due to the delicate nature of the 'matching' process for a young person, which aims to place the child with the best available foster carer.
This can mean that a carer with a vacant room is not necessarily offered a placement if there is a child that needs one, because it may be felt that the child would be better off with another carer that is better able to provide for that child's needs at that time. Matching a young person to a placement involves many factors including ethnic similarities, cultural and religious factors, as well at the age, sex and background of the young person in care.
The preferences of the foster carer is also taken into consideration as the carer knows there own ability in certain circumstances and has the right to refuse placements which they are not comfortable with, or for which they feel they are inexperienced in dealing with. Some foster carers may also prefer specifically long term or short term placements, and may appreciate a break in between placements. Find out more about fostering placements with Pride Fostering Service.