A London council is appealing for more gay couples to come forward to foster children in need of homes.
Lambeth council says it particularly needs carers for teenagers, disabled children and those on remand.
Cllr Pete Robbins, Lambeth Council Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Services, said he was concerned that so few gay couples in the borough are coming forward.
He said: “We are worried that gay couples in the borough think they can’t apply but this is simply not the case. There are many myths around who can be a foster carer, so this Fathers’ Day, we are urging single men, gay men and gay couples to come forward and find out more about fostering. The ability to provide a stable and loving environment for a child is the first qualification.”
Same-sex couples have been allowed to adopt or foster children jointly since 2005. However, only 3.75 per cent of children adopted in England in 2010 were adopted by gay couples. London is suffering a city-wide shortage of foster carers, especially those who can look after teenagers.
Mr Robbins added: “We are looking for foster carers from diverse backgrounds to provide children with a stable environment until it’s time for them to return home, move to a new permanent family or move to independent living. You do not have to be married, own your home or have children.
“At Lambeth, we are particularly in need of carers who can offer care for teenagers and young people who have been remanded to Lambeth by the courts. As well as carers for babies, children with a disability, and children who need a break from their natural parents (respite care).”
Lambeth council is inviting anyone interested in fostering to attend an information meeting in room 101 of the Town Hall on June 28th, between 4.30pm and 5.45pm. For more information, call 020 7926 8710.
Case study: ‘We’re better parents for fostering’
Simon and his partner have been foster parents with Lambeth council for four years.
He said: “Many gay people are put off applying as they don’t think they will be accepted as foster parents but this is not true. Fostering is a joy and you will make a real difference to a child who needs it. The ability to offer a child a loving and stable home life is the main criteria.
“We fostered a 16-year-old who came to us lacking confidence and with very low self-esteem. He told us he ‘felt worthless’ and was a ‘waste of space’. Eight months later he performed a song he’d written to an audience of 200 people. Through offering support, stability and a happy, loving home, he gained so much confidence and belief in himself. When you see a change like that you know exactly why you do it.
“We decided to foster through Lambeth for several reasons. We didn’t like the idea of fostering through an agency because morally it felt wrong to work with an organisation that made a profit from children in care. We found Lambeth to be open, flexible, diverse and it offered great support. Since we’ve fostered with Lambeth, we have found that there is a brilliant support network through the Lambeth Foster Care Association.
“Through it, you meet other foster carers, share common experiences and make new friends. It also organises lots of social things, like day trips, children’s parties and dinner parties, as well as training opportunities. The LFCA also has an excellent working relationship with the council, and we have regular open, candid and honest dialogue. Yes, its challenging, and a 24/7 commitment. It has tested us and our relationship, but it has also brought us closer because you make decisions together and you compromise together. We have disagreed on many things, never in front of our foster children, but we’ve worked through it, and the truth is we’re better parents for it.”