Scotland

Plea to foster the children who need help

children sitting together
Image caption The number of children looked after by Scottish councils is more than 15,000

Calum is nine but like thousands of other children in need of fostering or adoption his home has become unsafe for him.

His mother takes drugs and often leaves him alone.

In another Renfrewshire household 13-year-old Leanne ended up looking after her younger brother because their mother has a drink problem.

There were frequent fights at their house and the children were not getting regular meals.

These youngsters are all now in the care of Renfrewshire Council, and the authority is urgently appealing for people who could give them and other vulnerable children a home.

Like other local authorities, Renfrewshire Council desperately needs volunteers to look after children who can no longer stay with their families because of neglect, abuse or drink and drug problems.

Councillor Eileen McCartin said: "Whatever the reason, life has not been easy for these children and they need love and stability to grow into happy, confident people.

"We need many, many more potential foster carers and adoptive parents to come forward and offer these children that opportunity."

The law changed last year to allow more people to foster or adopt, and the campaign aims to attract people who might not immediately think of themselves as possible candidates.

Loving home

The number of children who are looked after by Scottish councils has risen every year since 2001 and currently stands at more than 15,000.

In Renfrewshire alone there are about 200, but it changes every day.

Provost Celia Lawson said: "Many people might not have thought about fostering before, or might think that they aren't eligible.

"The most vital qualification we are looking for is someone who can provide a child with a stable, loving home at a time when they need it most."

Carers need to be 21, but there is no upper age limit.

There are different types of carers needed, including;

  • Short-term foster carers to look after children temporarily.
  • Respite foster carers to provide short-term relief for families.
  • Permanent foster carers to look after children until they reach adulthood.
  • Enhanced foster carers to provide a stable family environment for children aged 12 and over.
  • Intensive foster carers to provide secure, long term care for young people who display challenging behaviour.

Margaret has been fostering for 36 years, and at 72 she has no intention of stopping.

Over the years she has looked after 115 children, adopted two more and is the legal guardian to a third, as well as having two of her own.

Margaret has not lost enthusiasm for the job. "I love it." she said.

"It's a great thing to be able to give something back."

Jacqueline and Sean are adoptive and foster parents and are currently looking after a little girl.

Jacqueline said she has changed in the time she's been with them: "She's so confident within herself now.

"We'll all be in tears when she goes back but it's the right thing for her."

To find out more about fostering in Renfrewshire find out more here

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