The Covid-19 pandemic has not put a stop to Bradford Council's work recruiting new foster carers.

Bradford Fostering quickly adapted new ways of working to support existing foster carers. It has also been using innovative ways of recruiting new carers and developing enquiries from people wanting to help the children and young people in our district. This is helping new foster carers to progress to the second part of their assessment more quickly than before the lockdown.

Bradford Council has started to see a rise in the number of children coming into the Local Authority’s care as lockdown eases.

At the same time the number of people living across the district coming forward to foster has fallen slightly so Bradford Council is making a plea for more people to consider becoming a foster carer. This may be because they have enjoyed working from home during lockdown or they may have a change in their circumstances caused by the current situation which could leave them well placed to provide a loving home for a vulnerable young person.

The Council is particularly asking people who have fostered before, who may have been taking a break from fostering or perhaps do not have a child living with them to think about whether they could consider coming forward as they already have the skills and know how important fostering is for making a real difference to a local child’s life.

After seeing an initial drop in the numbers of children requiring care during the first two months of the pandemic, June saw an increase in the number of children coming in to care and needing looking after.

The number of fostering enquiries from members of the public received in April, May and June fell by 9% in 2020 compared to 2019.
The fostering assessment team adapted swiftly and carried out 31 virtual home visits with potential carers during the three months of lockdown.

Bradford Fostering is training and preparing 12 fostering households through a modified online Skills to Foster course this week and another 12 are already booked on for July.

Councillor Adrian Farley, the Council’s Executive Member for children and families, said:

“The Council’s work recruiting, vetting and matching foster carers with children in need of care has not been halted by coronavirus or lockdown. Making sure the children in our care are placed in welcoming, loving homes remains a key priority for us.

“The coronavirus pandemic has placed an increased pressure on our fostering service, with some carers needing to shield or isolate and therefore unable to accept new placements.

“Receiving over 115 enquiries from members of the public keen to help and support children during this time shows the community spirit that people in the Bradford district are known for.

“This is really positive, but we are still appealing for more people to come forward to be considered as foster carers to help meet the anticipated continued rise in demand.

“We would like anyone who is interested in finding out more about fostering to get in touch if they think they can help."

Bradford Fostering is calling on people over 21, who have a spare room and the time and commitment to support a child to consider fostering.

Cllr Farley said Bradford Council was mindful of the potential impact Covid-19 would have on families in the district.

With over 1200 children in care across the Bradford district, Cllr Farley said that the council’s fostering service was “always looking for more foster carers."

He said: “They are our most vulnerable children. It’s our job to make sure we’re looking after them.

“Foster carers play a key role in the care we provide.

“The foster carer recruitment process hasn’t stopped. If somebody comes forward with an enquiry, we follow that up immediately. Our policy has always been to try and recruit as many foster carers as we can.”