Boom in would-be adopters and foster carers as stay-at-home residents ‘reassess their lives’

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Vulnerable child
More vulnerable children are being offered a home thanks to a rise in the number of adopters

There’s been a mini boom in people considering adopting needy children in Bedford as stay-at-home residents reconsider what is important in life, a meeting heard.

Councillors also heard that Bedford Borough Council is anticipating reaching a five-year high in people being approved as foster carers after chiefs ramped up their activity on social media and on local radio in Milton Keynes.

Harmesh Bhogal, the council’s chief officer for children’s services, said: “A lot of families who have had a bit more time perhaps think what’s more important and what they would like to do longer term have given some thought to to provide a home for an adopted child

“People have more time to perhaps think about what they want to do and what they could potentially offer to a child in providing them with a home forever.”

He added: “I don’t think there’s been research done on it; it’s been noticed that there has been an increase but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is part of the reason. It’s welcome in any way.”

A meeting of the council’s children’s services overview and scrutiny committee on Monday (4 January) was told that despite increases in interest there is still a shortage in the number of people available to provide permanent homes for children.

A report to the committee said there is a need for some 60 adopter households in the eastern region, which includes Bedford. Across the country there’s a shortage of around 8,500.

The council has also seen more interest in becoming foster carers, who provide time limited homes for children.

But the meeting heard that this could be more to do with having a specialist officer in post who has ramped up the council’s activity on social media, opening accounts with Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The council has also been organising virtual information evenings, and after one such event for would be foster carers they saw half the attendees take their interest to the next stage.

The report noted by councillors said that “it is anticipated that by March 31, 2021 we will have achieved approval of 21 households in total. This is the highest number of approvals achieved within the past five years.”

But Mr Bhogal added that applicants have to go through a rigorous approval process to make sure they are applying for the right reasons.

“Once the adoption team talk to them and they attend some information evenings some decide that actually adoption isn’t right for them and that’s appropriate and right.

“It is a lengthy and robust assessment and after that they have to be matched to a child.”

By David Tooley
Local Democracy Reporter

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